The Upper West Region is in the process of setting up isolation areas for suspected or confirmed cases of the novel Corona Virus (COVID-19).
The isolation or quarantine areas are among a tall list of preparations being coordinated by the Upper West Regional Directorate of Health Service to contain the virus should the region begin to encounter any.
The three designated areas are the recently operationalised Upper West Regional Hospital at Wa; the regional capital, the Tumu Government Hospital in Sissala East Municipality and the St. Theresa’s Hospital in the Nandom Municipality.
The Upper West Regional Director of Health Services, Dr Osei Kufuor Afreh described the locations of these facilities as strategic with regard to location.
Dr Afreh said the Tumu Government Hospital in Sissala East Municipality and the St. Theresa’s Hospital in the Nandom Municipality are being considered for their close proximity to the only 2 approved border points in the Region. The two border points are the Tumu Border and the Hamile Border respectively.
He said it is critical that these isolation centres are spread across the region to prevent the spread of the virus or create panic during transport of those infected from one area to the other.
Meanwhile, the Upper West Regional Hospital would serve other areas not in close proximity to the borders.
The Upper West Regional Director of Health Services, Dr Osei Kufuor Afreh said this when he convened a Regional Emergency Epidemic Management Committee Meeting to address issues pertaining to the novel Corona Virus and Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM).
OTHER ACTIVITIES BEING CARRIED OUT
As part of ensuring that health staff are adequately prepared to contain the novel virus, training of selected health staff across the region is expected to begin in the coming week. The Upper West Regional Director of Health Services, Dr Osei Kufuor Afreh mentioned that together with the Ghana Police Service and other sister security agencies, security and health presence are being strengthened at the approved and unapproved routes in the region.
Some of the approved routes which can be found in the Sissala West District, Nadowli-Kaleo District and the Lawra are being managed to prevent the unlawful entry into the country. Dr Afreh also mentioned that public education through the media has been scaled-up to ensure that more people understand the virus while fake news are dispelled.
The Upper West Regional Director of Health Services said as part of encouraging health staff to remain committed to their work, measures are being put in place to ensure frontline health staff are well protected.
Despite the efforts by the Upper West Regional Directorate of Health Services to prepare adequately to contain the novel Corona Virus, Dr Afreh has indicated that the Service is bedeviled with a lot of challenges, key among which is funding.
He said currently, the region has only been allocated an amount of ¢10,000.00 to help the region adequately prepare. Dr Afreh said the ¢10,000.00 is expected to be used to set up isolation centres, engage in public education, hold emergency meeting, social mobilisation and help with managing persons who have been quarantined.
Aside the insufficient funds, the region has also only 6 Non-contact thermometers, 2 of the thermometers are being used at Hamile border point, another 2 at the Tumu border point while the remaining dysfunctional.
Dr Afreh added that the region currently has only 3 Port Health Staff, 1 stationed at Tumu while the other two at Hamile. This he said makes it difficult to deal with the huge number of people who come through the border of Ghana on a daily basis.
Dr Afreh disclosed that Upper West Region has so far been supplied with 100 pieces of ‘Coveralls’, 20 pieces of re-usable goggles, 5 face shields, 60 N-95 Respirators, 50 surgical facial masks, 2 gum boots and the aforementioned ¢10,000.00.
WHAT RESIDENTS MUST DO
The Upper West Regional Director of Health Services, Dr Osei Kufuor Afreh entreated residents in the region to remain calm while following the protocols and guidelines that have been instituted by the Ghana Health Service.
He mentioned that the region has so far not recorded any suspected cases of the novel Corona Virus. Dr Afreh encouraged residents to report feverishness, colds and flus as well as cough immediately to the nearest health facility.
He was insistent that aside the 2 laboratories that have the ability to test of the presence of the Corona Virus in sputum and other body samples, no other laboratories can perform the test thus the need to report the signs and symptoms to proper health facilities for the right measures to be taken.
The Upper West Regional Director of Health Services reiterated the need to clean hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizers with a very high percentage of alcohol or wash hands under running water with soap.
CONTACT NUMBERS FOR UWR
Dr Osei Kufuor Afreh is encouraging residents to report all suspicious conditions to the following numbers for immediate assistance. They are: 0243264153 / 0244959874 / 0506826680.
The National Emergencies lines are 0509497700 and 0558439868.
The spread of the novel Corona Virus began sometime in December 2019 when residents in the Wuhan City in the Hubei Province began reporting cases which were suspected to be pneumonia. It was not until weeks later when health workers realised it was a new strain of virus. The initial outbreak was linked to a local animal market in the Wuhan City.
As it stands now, the novel Corona Virus has affected mainland China and 118 countries across the globe. By March 11, 2020, the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak of the virus as reaching pandemic levels. This is after more than 132,000 people had been confirmed as carrying the virus with more than 4,000 people losing their lives.
Meanwhile, more than 68,000 people have recovered from the diseases.
In Africa, there have been some 128 cases in 12 countries with Egypt racking up the largest numbers of cases followed by Algeria with 2 people dead. In Ghana the Ministry of Health has stated that out of the 57 cases that were initially reported, all tested negative until the March 12, 2020 when two individuals tested positive for the virus.
It must be stated that the WHO has tagged Ghana as one of the high risk African countries because of the frequent travels to Europe and Asia.
Story filed by Mark Smith/GBC