President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo yesterday visited some designated isolation centres for the dreaded coronavirus (COVID-19) in Accra.
He was at the centres to see for himself the level of preparedness of officials at the points of entry.
He started from the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), the country’s main point of entry, where he was received on arrival by the Managing Director of the Ghana Airports Company (GAC), Yaw Kwakwa, and the Minister for Aviation, Joseph Kofi Adda.
Together with the President were the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu; the Director General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr. Patrick Kumah-Aboagye, and the Presidential Advisor on Health, Dr. Nsiah Asare.
The airport authorities took the President through the various procedures travellers may have to go through when they arrive at the airport including but not limited to filling a health questionnaire and the testing of temperature to ascertain whether or not the person has or is showing any of the signs and symptoms of the dreaded virus which has already claimed over 3,000 lives worldwide, with China, where it was first discovered, being the hardest hit.
He was also shown a quarantine room with a medical team on standby 24/7 at the airport to attend to any suspected cases.
From the KIA, the President moved to the Tema General Hospital to understand a similar exercise and later to the Ridge Hospital in Accra to assess the level of preparedness there.
After the visit, the President said he was satisfied with what he had seen and encouraged the health officials to be on the alert.
He, therefore, asked Ghanaians to keep hopes high and trust the health authorities to handle any possible outbreak.
Mr. Kwakwa later told journalists that “we are well prepared to deal with the coronavirus issue through every international standard.”
“From what the President said when he was getting into his car, he is very satisfied that we have put in place measures along international guidelines to make sure that the country is well protected against the coronavirus,” he said during an interview.
The coronavirus issue came up strongly for discussion in Parliament yesterday.
A member of the Health Committee of Parliament, Dr. Bernard Okoe Boye, said Ghana has the capacity to handle and treat people infected with the deadly disease.
According to him, there is no need for any public alarm as the coronavirus is just like the deadly Ebola, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) diseases and can be handled.
Contributing to a statement made by the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, the Ledzokuku Member of Parliament (MP) said Ghanaian health experts should be trusted to do a good job.
He indicated that several response actions, including training and sensitization, had been triggered to deal with COVID-19 cases that are found in the country.
Earlier, the Minister of Health had told Parliament that the screening of passengers on arrival had actually started with the use of thermal scanning and health declaration forms.
According to him, the country’s points of entry staff have also been sensitized to case detection, prevention and control, while a room has been identified at Kotoka to hold COVID-19 suspects.
The minister disclosed that quarantine centres had also been established, and another 100-bed capacity facility was being secured, and would be ready for use in two weeks’ time.
He further indicated that a health response team had been constituted by the President to handle the crisis, and that the team reports to the President on a daily basis.
“The public health management structures at all levels – national, regional and district – have been activated and placed on high alert,” he stated and added that National Technical Coordinating Committee meetings were ongoing.
The Ranking Member of the Health Committee of Parliament, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, however, criticised the preparedness response programmes of the government, describing them as inadequate.
According to him, there are ‘gaps’ in the case management of the COVID-19 preparedness response to any potential outbreak in the country.