Parliament prods government to take steps to keep out China coronavirus Featured

By Nana Yaw Dwamena January 31, 2020 2816 920 comments

MPs have unanimously urged the government to speed up moves to establish systems to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus to Ghana.

Speaking on the floor of Parliament on Wednesday, MPs said even though the country is yet to record any cases of the disease, it is important that preventive measures be put in place.

Nearly 60 million people are under partial or full lockdown in cities in China as the coronavirus, centred on the city of Wuhan, continues to spread across Asia and other parts of the world. At least 170 people are dead and more than 7,700 cases have been confirmed in mainland China since the outbreak began in December.

Adequate preparations

The MP for Ledzokuku, Bernard Okoe Boye, said even though there is no cause for alarm, Ghana just needs to prepare adequately for any required action in the event of an outbreak.

“I don’t believe there is a cause for alarm,” said the MP, a medical doctor by profession. “We only need to prepare ourselves adequately. … the symptoms are not any different from the common cold. You’re going to have a cough, headaches and sometimes joint pains.

“The only exception here is that sometimes the symptoms might be severe and the essence of speaking to this condition is to alert health personnel so that they will have a suspicion index so that they can pin corona as soon as possible,” Dr Okoe Boye said. “Once they suspect and investigate, we will have supportive treatment.”

The MP for Nabdam, Mark Kurt Nawaane, also a doctor, shed more light on what the Ministry of Health has done so far.

“The ministry … has issued statements calling on all Ghanaians to prevent the virus from entering the country and putting all regional and district health-care officials on alert.

“There is also surveillance at all entry points into the country. At the airports, residents coming from China undergo special screening processes and Ghanaian traders travelling to China have been asked to postpone their trips if possible,” he said.

High surveillance

The Ministry of Health issued a statement announcing that all passengers from China who arrive in Ghana will undergo enhanced screening and surveillance to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

The ministry subsequently designated the Greater Accra Regional Hospital in Ridge and Tema General Hospital as national centres to manage possible cases of coronavirus.

It said the move is part of Ghana’s plans to prevent and control any case that may be detected in the country and ultimately protect Ghanaians.

Around the world

The New York Times has reported that more than a dozen countries with a handful of cases – including the United States of America – are isolating patients and monitoring their contacts, as well as screening travellers from China and urging people to postpone trips there.

China, with nearly 1.4 billion people, is the most populous nation on Earth, and it has taken extreme measures to try to stop the disease, first reported in December in Wuhan, a city of 11 million. The government has stopped travel in and out of the city and surrounding areas, effectively locking down tens of millions of people.

“The fact that to date we have only seen 68 cases outside China and no deaths is due, in no small part, to the extraordinary steps the government has taken to prevent the export of cases,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organisation, said at a news briefing on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has launched two hotlines for parents or guardians with wards in Wuhan and its environs.

The hotline numbers can be used by parents and guardians to contact officials and get first-hand information on the situation.

* The telephone numbers to call are *86 186 1208 4232 or *86 186 1295 9040.

A patient is helped to dismount from an ambulance in Wuhan on Sunday


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