SAR-COV-2: The cunning and elusive coronavirus and Prof. Douglas Boateng ‘s thoughts… COVID-19 disease that gave the world a wakeup call

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A fifth part that lays out the true facts after 80 days as the patterns become clearer

Worldwide perspective: As at April 27, globally, (a) the 3,013,803 total recorded coronavirus (SAR-COV-2) infection cases equate to 0.039 percent of the 7.9 billion global population; (b) the 57,637 recorded serious and critical cases as a percentage of the known infection cases is 1.91 percent and reducing; (c) the 207,894recorded unfortunate deaths as a percentage of the global population is 0.0027 percent and not significantly rising.

Also, (d) the 207,894 recorded deaths as a percentage of recorded infection cases is 6.89 percent and showing a downward trend; (e) the 57,637 recorded serious and critical cases as a percentage of the global population is 0,0007 percent and not showing a significant upward trajectory; (f) the 888,339, recovered cases as a percentage of recorded infections now stands at 29.48 percent and rapidly rising. It is also expected to relatively surge within the next 30 days.

Perspectives on Ghana: Between February 1, 2020 and April 26, 2020 (i) 1,550 coronavirus infections have been recorded in Ghana. This represents 0.0049 percent of the latest total population (31.07m. Feb 2020) of Ghana and well below the global average. Out of these infection cases, 11 Ghanaians have sadly died from the COVID-19 disease. The fatalities represent 0.71 percent of the recorded infection cases.  As a percentage of the total population of Ghana as at April 26, it is 0.000035 percent and not significantly rising.

Nonetheless these unfortunate deaths are relatively significant because of the impact each fatality will have on the 11 affected families (ii). It is also worth noting that the six recorded serious and critical cases as a percentage of the Ghanaian population and as a percentage of recorded infection cases is currently 0.00002 percent and 0.387 percent respectively, and not showing a significant upward trajectory (iii).

Total recovered cases have risen to 155 within the same period, representing 10 percent of recorded infections. All indications point to a significant increase in the recovery numbers within the next 30 days.  

A well-funded public health supply chain system, integrated global surveillance coupled with strict containment and compliance measures are the keys to success.

Without a doubt, coronavirus is a very contagious micro-organism with serious implications for mankind. Until a vaccine is developed and mass produced, or until a majority of the world’s population develop antibodies, impacts of the virus will be tremendous with numerous untended consequences.

It is for this reason that: (1) a fully integrated measures for Tracing, Testing, Isolation, Treatment, continuous Tracking and Monitoring must for now be mandatory; (2) containment measures such as wearing of the right face protection masks (FPM), improved personal hygiene, washing hands, restrictions on public gatherings, social distancing in communal areas, in offices and work areas, border controls etc. must still be strictly adhered to.

Also, (3) global decision-makers must collectively work together to find lasting solutions post lockdowns; and (4) increased investment in both local and global public health must be an immediate must. It was indeed very encouraging to hear from the president on April 26 that there is going to be an investment into the nations’ public health supply chain systems with the immediate construction of hospitals and disease-monitoring centres across the country.

For the record, the move to construct among others 88 one hundred-bed hospitals within a 12-24-month timeframe is the largest since post-independent Ghana. Secondly, no African country to date has attempted to upgrade part of their public health care supply chain facilities in such a record time.

Thirdly, the move to also support local pharmaceutical manufacturing and potential vaccine production has major implications for long-term sectorial supply chain industrialisation and job creation

We neglect other diseases at our own peril

Concerns are already being voiced by leading organisations including the FAO, Alliance for Malaria Prevention(AMP), TB alliance, World Food programme(WFP), UNwomen organisation, World Health Organisation (WHO), Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations (GAVI) etc. about the impact of SAR-COV-2 and COVID-19 on other very destructive infections and diseases.

Collected data by Ghana’s Ministry of Health (MoH) and other monitoring bodies will most likely, sadly, reveal that the virus’ clever ambush of our public health system over the last eighty days has unfortunately resulted in thousands of Ghanaians perishing from malaria, malnutrition, typhoid, depression, diabetes, hypertension, cholera, women and child abuse, flu and TB to name but a few.

As rightly pointed out by the president and other experts, we should not allow this invisible and cunning enemy to hoodwink us into disregarding these other dreadful diseases which are also (a) causing havoc within our struggling and relatively underfunded public healthcare system; (b) destroying families; (c) negatively impacting work place productivity; and (d) hampering socio-economic development.

Summary

There a saying that “The truth will always remain the truth even if nobody believes, and a lie will always remain a lie even if everybody believes it.”

Current factual data clearly provide evidence that the global tide is turning, with Ghana managing the unprecedented crisis relatively well. With more carefully coordinated public education (in English and local languages), tracing, testing, isolation, treatment, continuous tracking and monitoring, recorded coronavirus infection cases are definitely going to show an upward trajectory into the foreseeable future.

The very positive news is that deciphered data (from among others the WHO, John Hopkins University, Harvard University and from various emerging epidemiological models) have provided further proof that getting infected with coronavirus (SAR-COV-2) is certainly not a death sentence. Nor does it necessarily lead to the full-blown COVID-19 disease.

It is for this reason that in many other countries several high profile and ordinary citizens are increasingly publicly declaring their positive status – to minimise stigma plus give hope to their fellow nationals and the world at large. Tom Hanks, Richard Quest and Prince Charles are classic examples.

To date, just over three million SAR-COV-2 infections have been recorded globally.  Both total serious and critical cases and total deaths as a percentage of the world’s population remain well below one percent. Total death as a percentage of recorded coronavirus infections is under eight percent and improving.

Thanks to the president and government’s directives, coupled with our individual improving self-discipline, the facts on Ghana as indicated for both virus and disease for now seem to be under control and well below the global trends.

To re-emphasise that as a country we are doing relatively well, recorded infection cases as percentage of the global population is currently 0.039 percent, while in Ghana the figure as a percentage of the local population is 0.0049 percent. Similarly, serious and critical cases as a percentage of the recorded infection cases globally is 1.91 percent while in Ghana it is currently 0.387 percent of the locally logged cases. Unfortunate fatalities as a percentage of recorded infections globally is 6.89 percent, while the national figure is 0.71 percent.

Conclusion

Coronavirus (SAR-C0V-2) is unquestionably a highly infectious novel virus with the associated COVID-19 disease certainly lethal, especially among the aged and vulnerable.

In a record time, this cunning and elusive beast has managed to bring the entire globe, several industries and associated supply chains to their knees: funerals, church services, building and construction, hotels, public health, tourism, small businesses, aviation, automotive, mining, oil, restaurants, cinemas, entertainment, retail, sports, etc.

Our success in containing the virus and associated diseases to help restore some new form of normalcy, as rightly and repeatedly opined by President Nana Akufo Addo and other global leaders and experts, relies on the constant need for a vigilant and determined ‘citizens’ army’ prepared to strictly adhere to the clearly defined rules for winning this very complicated war.

The ultimate victory will thus depend on each one of us remaining disciplined and fully focused on the goal. May the Almighty continue to bless our beloved Ghana and the world at large.

>>>The author is an expert in global logistics and supply chain management.

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