Within the past few days, nine students of Mpraeso Senior High School in the Kwahu South District of the Eastern Region have been isolated over COVID-19 fears.
The school is awaiting results of tests conducted on the students as they receive medical attention and management.
It follows the confirmation of eight cases at Accra Girls’ Senior High School which threw the student body and parents into pandemonium.
Subsequently, there have been reports of COVID-19 scares in other senior high schools across the country, just about a month after the President directed that they be opened for final-year students to go sit their exams.
A few days ago, a final-year student of KNUST SHS in Kumasi died on campus after bouts of vomiting and stomach issues.
The school authorities, according to the students, neglected their colleague out of fear of contracting COVID-19.
Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah announced at a press briefing on Thursday, 9 July 2020, that: “The President has tasked a sub-committee of the COVID-19 Presidential taskforce to be set up to quickly address challenges that may arise in the next eight weeks while final-year students are in school”.
It is to ensure that the guidelines of campus quarantine are “strictly enforced” and any gaps “swiftly addressed” where incidents are suspected, the Ofoase-Ayirebi MP said.
Also, he said special arrangements were being put in place to address the concerns of anxious parents.
“If you are a parent and you are reading a story online and you are hearing something, we encourage you to call 311 from tomorrow [Friday, 10 June 2020]”.
That line, Mr Oppong Nkrumah noted, has “dedicated officers” who are “being put there to help connect parents to the schools to validate whether some of the reports are true”.
Ghana recently recorded 641 new COVID-19 cases, taking the total caseload to 23,463, the Ghana Health Service has announced.
The new infections were recorded in 52 districts across eight regions.
Also, the number of recoveries and discharges has jumped to 18,622.
There are currently 4,717 active cases.
All the confirmed cases were from 222,910 tests conducted.
So far, 9,403 were confirmed from routine surveillance with 14,060 from contact-tracing.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 infections in Africa today surpassed 500, 000, and there are concerns as a growing number of countries are experiencing a sharp rise in cases, the World Health Organization (WHO), has said.
It noted that, so far, in less than five months, the virus has claimed 11, 959 lives on the continent, overtaking the 11, 308 lives lost in the world’s worst Ebola outbreak in West Africa between 2014 and 2016.
Cases have more than doubled in 22 countries in the region over the past month.
Nearly two-thirds of countries are experiencing community transmission.
Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa account for about 71% of COVID-19 cases.
South Africa alone accounts for 43% of the continent’s total cases.
However, the accelerating growth trend is not uniform across the continent, with some countries recording a steady rise in cases, indicating a protracted pandemic.
Eritrea, The Gambia, Mali, Seychelles and Togo are witnessing long doubling times and low growth rates.
Seychelles had not experienced a case in nearly two months, but in the past week, had dozens of new imported cases, linked to crew members of an international fishing vessel.
There are also some signs of progress as 10 countries have experienced a downward trend over the past month.
Although Egypt accounts for 15 per cent of cumulative cases, it has seen a decline in the past week.
“With more than a third of countries in Africa doubling their cases over the past month, the threat of COVID-19 overwhelming fragile health systems on the continent is escalating,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Director for Africa.
“So far, the continent has avoided disaster and if countries continue to strengthen key public health measures such as testing, tracing contacts and isolating cases, we can slow down the spread of the virus to a manageable level.”
Eighty-eight per cent of COVID-19 infections are among people aged 60 and below, likely due to Africa’s relatively young population.
However, the likelihood of dying from COVID-19 rises with increasing age and the existence of co-morbidities, with the risk of death among patients aged 60 years and above being 10 times higher compared with those below 60.
“Communities across the continent have a crucial role to play in controlling the pandemic, especially as countries begin easing lockdowns and opening up their borders,” said Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Director for the Eastern Mediterranean.
“As governments continue to implement public health measures, individuals must remain as cautious and vigilant as ever to protect themselves, their families, and their communities. Hand washing, mask use, physical distancing and other preventative measures are key to controlling transmission, saving lives, and ensuring that already overwhelmed health systems are not stretched to breaking point.”
As COVID-19 continues to spread, thousands of health workers have also fallen ill.
Equipping and protecting health workers is one of the central pillars of the COVID-19 response.
WHO is working to support countries respond to COVID-19 by providing technical guidance, crucial medical equipment and has remotely trained more than 25 000 health workers. WHO has also organised more than 420 shipments of key equipment, including more than 3000 oxygen concentrators, 23 000 GeneXpert diagnostic testing machines and almost 4 million pieces of personal protective equipment for health care workers.