The Graduate Physician Assistants Association of Ghana (GRAPAG) is calling for the immediate lockdown of towns and cities with the most confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the country,
Ghana’s current count of recorded cases stands at 68, with a death toll of three.
All the cases were recorded in the Greater Accra and Ashanti Regions.
In a statement signed by their President, Anthony Asare Arkoh, the physician assistants said the government should either “conduct mass testing of all towns and cities with most cases immediately or immediately lock down the towns and cities with most cases”.
Among other things, they also called on the government to “immediately enforce social distancing at the OPDS at all health facilities and amongst health professionals who were super-spreaders in Wuhan and Italy. Restrict the number of passengers for public transport (taxis, trotro and buses). Direct that all public transport on long journeys to have first aiders to monitor the clinical features of passengers before taking off and arrival.”
“The leadership of the Association anticipates the Ministry of Health opens the application portal for the recruitment of the over 200 Physician Assistants in accordance with the orders of His Excellency Nana Addo-Dankwa Akuffu Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana to assist in the COVID-19 pandemic immediately,” the statement added.
Ghana’s epicentres of coronavirus
Two cities – Accra in the Greater Accra Region and Kumasi in the Ashanti Region have been identified as the hotspots of COVID-19 in Ghana, Health Minister, Kwaku Agyemang Manu has said.
More 90% of the recorded cases are in Accra alone, while the remaining are in Kumasi.
Addressing the press on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, in Accra, the Health Minister said following the case management by health officials, “what we have identified so far is that we can describe two areas in Ghana now as our own epicentres. Accra and Tema together and Kumasi”.
“In Accra, we have deployed 98 field officers, epidemiologists and community health nurses who have been trained in tracing people. In Kumasi, we have deployed about 50 trained people who are also doing contact tracing,” the Minister added.
Calls for lockdown
Following the rate of how fast the COVID-19 in Ghana, many have called for the lockdown of either the whole country or the Greater Accra and Ashanti Regions to avoid community spread.
The country’s recorded cases have jumped from 16 to 68 in just five days; from 20th to 25th March 2020.
The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) is one of the groups calling on the government to declare a nationwide lockdown with immediate effect.
GMA, however, said the lockdown should exempt essential service providers.
“The GMA fully conscious of the threat posed by this pandemic, the disturbing trend of community spread and the obvious inadequate capacity of the nation’s health system to deal with the increased numbers of COVID-19 infection especially in the severe to critical cases, call on His Excellency the President of the Republic of Ghana to declare a nationwide lockdown with the exception of essential services with immediate effect,” a statement from the GMA stated.
The Bureau of Public Safety has also asked for the “immediate discriminated lockdown” of Greater Accra and Ashanti Regions for at least 21 days.
All Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and all All Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) must also be locked down, according to the Bureau.
Like the GMA, the Bureau also said that essential services could be exempted from this lockdown.
But the Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, in response to these calls says government currently has a number of options on the table including proposals for the lockdown of the country in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
At a media briefing on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, he said the request for a lockdown is not a decision to be taken lightly.
“There is a lot of talk, agitation [on] lockdown because we are seeing it on TV. Different jurisdictions have different dynamics…The decision to lock down or not is one that is not taken lightly.”
He, however, indicated that a team of experts acting as part of the COVID-19 emergency response team meet with President Akufo-Addo daily and advise him on the best options at various times.