All must prepare for Covid-19 (Novel Coronavirus)

From the time when the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Covid-19 a public health emergency of international concern asking all countries to be “in a phase of preparedness”, more countries outside the epicenter have recorded cases of the virus.

Cases have since been confirmed in several other Asian countries, Europe and the United States with the African region being the latest to bear the brunt of the epidemic.

So far, three cases have been confirmed in Algeria, one in Egypt and one in Nigeria with other countries including Ivory Coast, Kenya, Ethiopia and Botswana recording suspected cases of the virus.

In Ghana, over 25 suspected cases have been picked up but all have proven negative. However, the incidences coupled with the rising number of cases on the Africa region, latest being Nigeria (our brothers) have heightened fears of a possible outbreak in the country and the level of preparedness to combat it.

At present, government has committed GH¢2.5 million to support preparatory activities towards Covid-19 as various measures are being undertaken to strengthen systems at national, regional, district and community levels.

Among interventions taken are the designation of the Greater Accra Regional Hospital and Tema General Hospital as initial case management centres for an outbreak to be scaled up to all teaching hospitals in the country in case of an eventuality.

Screening at the airport and other points of entry to all international arrivals have been enhanced and are being monitored, stakeholder engagements, provision of necessary logistics as well as capacity building for health workers are ongoing to get the country fully equipped to handle the disease.

Nonetheless, the WHO says additional funding would be required to scale up the country’s capacity to properly deal with an eventuality.

An assessment report released on Friday by the organisation says the GH¢2.5 million allocation from government is inadequate as the total budget needed to tackle Covid-19 stands at GH¢35 million.

The Ghanaian Times believes the advice from the WHO is timely and provides an avenue for government and stakeholders alike to accumulate all needed resources to fill the existing gaps in the entire preparatory process.

Aside the allocation of funds, suggestions have come up for government to commission the several abandoned health facilities across the country as isolation centres for Covid-19 as present ones designated were enclosed and the possibility of spreading to others was high.

In the medium to long term, the establishment of an Infectious Disease hospital would be critical to address such emerging public health problems.

On the other hand, we join hands with the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in urging all and sundry to be prepared and protect themselves from contracting the disease.

The general public must stick to precautionary measures of washing hands regularly with soap under running water or if possible use hand sanitisers, practice common cough and sneezing etiquette such as covering of mouth with handkerchief or tissue paper when coughing or sneezing, use protective masks and where possible stay away from crowded areas.

Businesses must make sure their environment are clean and hygienic, ensure proper ventilation, develop a plan of what to do when someone is ill and suspected of COVID-19 and develop a continuity plan for their operations in case of an outbreak.

This is the time we must all plan and follow emergency directives to ensure that the disease is contained.

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