The National Democratic Congress (NDC) COVID-19 Team has called on the government to embark on a nationwide testing as a means of getting a hold of the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ghana.
It said the restricted movement being implemented by the government may not be effective because many of the economic migrants in the affected cities moved back to their hometowns before the action took effect.
“We recommend, as a matter of urgency, the review of the testing strategy under consideration from one focused on contact tracing within the lockdown perimeters to a nationwide testing approach,” it suggested.
In a proposal to the government, the team in a statement, noted that the risk of outward spread had been exacerbated by the unintended consequences of the lead time, hence it was essential to curtail that threat in its infancy.
“This recommendation of a nationwide testing programme must be paired with enforced quarantine of recent arrivals in the hinterland under the supervision of the Regional Security Councils (REGSECs) or District Security Councils (DISECs) and a progressive health education of returnees, their families and their communities,” the statement said.
It also proposed an efficient information management system to help deal with the disease in the country.
According to the team, information management was a crucial part of heightening awareness of the threat, enhancing public understanding of preventive measures, and improving preparedness for the weeks ahead.
"It is crucial for the Ministry of Information and the Ghana Health Service to develop a proactive strategy for monitoring and refuting the false information on COVID-19 circulating on social and digital media," it said, noting: "The rapid spread of fake remedies and hoaxes about susceptibility, among others, may themselves create a false sense of security that reduces vigilance in personal preventive measures. It is important to identify these messages and to be proactive in debunking and disproving them to ensure that the signal does not get drowned out by the noise."
The statement explained that the management of information related to the size of the outbreak itself, the details of the testing programme and the outcomes for patients must be consistent, pointing out that "this information is vital to reinforcing messages about the reality and risks of COVID-19 and to fill the information vacuum that supports the spread of inaccurate information."
The statement said the limited success of the containment strategy employed prior to the announced restriction of movements portend difficult days ahead for the healthcare system.
“It is our considered opinion that a wave of incubating infections is likely to break within the next week, with serious consequences for the capacity and effectiveness of our healthcare system. This concern extends to the safety and sustainability of our healthcare workforce as well.
The team also called for the strategic deployment of reserves maintained by the National Buffer Stocks Company (NBSC) to induce lower costs of food products.
The team explained that the maintenance of such retail outlets might be delegated to the local government under the supervision of DISEC and REGSEC and that the NBSC’s reserves might also be employed for a direct nutrition assistance programme to the most vulnerable communities and households nationwide to guarantee their food security.