Ghana’s health minister Kwaku Agyemang-Manu says health officials will not rely on common sense approach in decisions to prevent the deadly novel coronavirus that has plagued the world, from entering the country.
He told parliamentarians this week that common sense approach as suggested by some MPs, was not the solution but experts’ advice, which he noted, health authorities in the country are currently adhering to.
“We have tried not to rely and use common sense advice but experts’ advice and that is what we are going through…We are not relying so much on common sense advice, we are relying on expert advice to take decisions,” Mr Agyemang-Manu said.
Ranking Member of the Health Committee, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, had questioned why the government was being hesitant in evacuating Ghanaian students from Wuhan and rather do so at the last hour when the virus situation would have degenerated.
“Mr Speaker, common sense will tell you that when you are assessing risk as far as evacuation is concerned, you evacuate when the risk is low. You don’t wait till the risk is high before you do evacuation,” he argued in parliament this week.
But the Health Minister suggested common sense not an option in this case as government and health officials are strictly working with technical advice from experts at the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“We are working together with WHO in country here for our emergency preparedness and we are taking advice from protocols that are being sent to us on daily basis by WHO,” he assured.
Mr Agyemang-Manu revealed that Ghana was initially discouraged from evacuating its students from Wuhan where the virus that has so far killed more than 3,000 people and infected over 85,000 people globally originated from.
“Not very long after, China actually imposed a complete ban even on evacuation,” he stated.
The minister observed that more than 80 per cent of cases recorded outside China were the results of evacuation hence Ghana’s “decision to hesitate and assess risk before we rush to evacuate was a very good decision”.
Figures from WHO shows nearly 100,000 people worldwide have contracted the coronavirus, also known as covid-19, with more than 3,000 people, majority in China, dying of the virus which has no cure.
Director general of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has described the spread of the virus as “deeply concerning” and urged all countries to make containment “their highest priority”.
Ghana has not recorded any coronavirus case. At least 41 suspected cases which fit the case definition of the virus have all tested negative.
Despite this, government says it has been preparing prevent and also to manage any recorded case of coronavirus in the country.
A quarantine centre has already been established in the country. A remotely located 100-bed capacity facility for the purpose of quarantining persons with coronavirus is expected to be ready in two weeks’ time.
A holding room has already been set up at the country’s main entry point, the Kotoka International Airport, to use for suspected cases.
The Greater Accra Regional Hospital (Ridge) and the Tema General Hospital have already been designated as treatment and isolation centres, but the Minister said all the five teaching and 10 regional hospitals in the country have the potential to manage covid-19 cases.
Also, case management teams have been trained.
A total of 5,000 PPEs have been procured and distributed to all regions and major health facilities and points of entry in the country as well as some selected health facilities. More are being procured by government to help protect our frontline workers.
More reagents and primer are also being procured for the two health research centres at the forefront of testing for coronavirus cases in the country.