Adapting A Scientific Approach To Winning The COVID-19 War In Ghana
A Senior Lecturer in Microbiology at the University of Energy and Natural Resources in Sunyani has outlined measures that will help in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic in Ghana.
Dr. SF Gyasi, who is also the Head of Department at the Department of Basic Biology and Applied Sciences outlined these measures in his article as described by him, to ''calm'' down nerves and provided effective measures that could help in curbing this novel coronavirus in the wake of exponential cases of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ghana.
Kindly read his full article below;
I write to calm down the nerves of the numerous Ghanaians who are in fear and panic as a result of the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in recent times on this Resurrection Easter Sunday; whiles ensuring we keep to control measures required to prevent further community spread.
For some 4 months now, the world has been battling with a novel viral infection, known as COVID-19. According to the Ministry of Health, in Ghana as of 10 April 2020, 23:00 HRS, a total of 27,346 persons have been tested with 408 being positive for COVID-19.
The breakdown of the 408 positive cases is as follows: four (4) have been treated, discharged and have tested negative, 394 cases have been categorised as mild disease on treatment, 2 moderate to severe cases, none currently on ventilators and (8) have died.
Literature from the Chinese COVID-19 episodes suggest that mostly the aged above 65 are the group mostly at a great risk of contracting the virus. However, the Ghanaian episode has shown that, the younger generation are equally at risk of contracting COVID-19 as much as the older generation introducing even more dynamics although these are early days.
It can be implied that the virus follows the Koch’s Postulate of microbial dose exposure and response mechanism. This simply means that, any group that is exposed to the COVID-19 virus irrespective of age group could be at risk of COVID-19 infection.
It is also important to note that, of the 408 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 205 were reported from the routine surveillance, 88 from enhanced surveillance activities and 115 from travellers under mandatory quarantine in both Accra and Tamale. Again, whiles 42.9% of the positive cases were imported from outside Ghana, 57.1% of the remaining acquired the disease from community spread as shown below. This implies a wide community spread.
It is true, our current number is high (556), but we ought not to be too alarmed because we have resorted to a scientific approach of a lockdown followed by aggressive testing of the virus in hot spot areas of the community. By this scientific approach, we have collectively decided to go after the virus at the right time, picking up all the 4 possible groups of carriers namely active carriers, convalescent carriers, healthy carriers and incubating carriers. With this method, there is enough time to isolate positive cases and manage same with the few resources we have as a country to deal effectively with the virus.
If this scientific approach can be sustained effectively without introducing new cross infections into the Ghanaian population especially from further community spread and from nosocomial infection (Infections from hospitals into the community) then we may be on our way to winning the COVID-19 fight.
But this should not fool us into thinking we are out of the woods yet. Other affected countries came to this stage a few weeks ago, but at some point, they thought they were out of the woods and decided to let down their guard thinking all was well. Today, they are bearing the full brunt of this smart virus with some high daily mortality figures.
For Ghana to fight COVID-19 differently, the following steps ought to be considered;
1. We should sustain the lock down with the appropriate variations so all the 4 possible types of carriers of COVID-19 in Ghana i.e. active carriers, convalescent carriers, healthy carriers and incubating carriers are mobbed up and isolated. This must be sustained until there are no new infected cases being reported from the community.
2. Continuous testing and isolation of positive cases should continue as much as possible to exhaust all suspected hot spots in Ghana.
3. The Ghanaian boarders should not be opened as long as we have intercity lock downs.
4. Psychosocial and psychosomatic ramification in Ghana as a result of the emergence of COVID-19 and the possible implication of the lock down should be effectively dealt with.
5. Treatment/management site of the 408 COVID-19 positive cases should be located away from our Regional, District and sub district hospitals to prevent new cross infections.
6. We must intensify education to reduce Ro i.e. R “not” (which is the Reproductive Number of the virus in a naïve population) of COVID-19 in Ghana.
7. We must continue to adhere to the washing of our hands with soap and clean running water, the use of alcohol based 70% sanitizers and employing social distancing.
With these, I am convinced we shall be out of the wounds sooner than we anticipated
Dr. SF Gyasi, a Senior Lecturer in Microbiology,
University of Energy and Natural Resources - Sunyani.