‘Nation’s coronavirus preparedness shaky’

President of the Institute for Security, Disaster and Emergency Studies Dr. Ishmael Norman has described as shaky the country’s preparedness to deal with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

According to him, measures the state has put in place to deal with the virus is not foolproof and something must be done urgently considering Africa has recorded its first case.

He made this known at public forum on the global scourge of coronavirus organised by Media General, through its General Thought Leadership and Impact Series, in collaboration with Vodafone Healthline, under the theme: Emerging Infectious Diseases (EIDs) and their effects on public health management in Ghana.

Head of the Virology Department at the Noguchi Memorial Institute at the event, Prof. William K. Ampofo highlighted the Institute’s capacity to accurately diagnose the condition. He indicated that since December 2019, individuals exhibiting similar pneumonia-like symptoms such as fever, coughing and difficulty in breathing have been tested and all have proven negative.

He added that, work on finding a vaccine was proceeding in earnest and was quick to warn against the proliferation of myths such as Africans are immune to the disease on account of the one Cameroonian student who is reported to have recovered from the illness.

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Aviation Medical Specialist, Issaka Akparibo, took advantage of the opportunity to explain the difference between coronavirus and Ebola; both have similar symptoms. Chief among the difference is the mode of transmission; whilst Ebola spread primarily via contact with body fluids of the infected, coronavirus is airborne and is spread through droplet and aerosol transmission.

Director of Public Health at the Ghana Health Service (GES), Dr. Badu Sarkodie, highlighted some of the steps taken by stakeholders to prepare for a possible outbreak.  These include the inspection of health declaration forms for all travelers as well as the use of thermal scanners at the airport. Admitting that there was room for improvement, he allayed the fears of all and reaffirmed government’s commitment to provide the needed resources to prepare well.

The member of Parliament for Daffiama and Ranking member of the Health Committee, Dr.  Sebastian N. Sandaare also called for clear communication on the nation’s level of preparedness.

According to a recently released report, the latest outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has infected some 73,337 people as at 18th February, 2020 – more than those recorded during the 2003 SARS outbreak. Infections have been confirmed in more than two dozen countries, resulting in at least 1,875 deaths.

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