Intensify testing to avert spread of COVID-19

Ghana has so far recorded 136 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) disease which is spreading across the globe and has brought the world’s health systems to a standstill. 

In Ghana, although, three of them have passed on, the rest, according to the Ghana Health Service, are responding to treatment.

The numbers soared dramatically following government’s decision to mandatorily quarantine 1,030 passengers who flew into the country after closure of the country’s borders on March 22.

 This means that all those who entered Ghana prior to implementation of the directive remain untested as far as they were asymptomatic of the disease.

We must commend the government for the swiftness in implementing the mandatory quarantine measure which has halted the local community spread, albeit temporarily.

However, we believe that mass testing of citizens would greatly enhance Ghana’s strategy in containing the virus as has been emphasised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Stressing the need for aggressive testing of people for early detection of COVID-19, Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros  Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said “you can’t fight a virus if you don’t know where it is. Find, isolate, test and treat every case, to break the chains of transmission. Every case we find and treat limits the expansion of the disease.”

He posits that testing allows for tracking down of cases with symptoms, tracing people they have contacted and quarantining them until they are no longer infectious.

The world can learn from the experience of South Korea that used testing to contain the spread of the disease.

It is evidently clear from the experience of South Korea that mass testing is the surest way to combat the COVID-19 epidemic. 

The country was able to sample and test faster than in other countries and so there was no reason for draconian measures as other countries did.

At its peak, without lockdown and other restrictive movement measures, the country built the ability to test more than 10,000 people per day, including establishing makeshift drive-through testing centres across the country. 

This resulted in many including businesses and cities being run normally without being subjected to a government-instituted lockdown. 

The method adopted by South Korea has resulted in one of the lowest casualty rates from COVID-19 in the world, at just one per cent.  

The Ghanaian Times is, therefore, convinced that intensive testing is necessary to enhance contact tracing and quarantining of people to contain the spread of COVID-19.

A large-scale testing serves as a form of protection to our frontline health workers and a measure of the progression of the epidemic as well as better control of outbreaks.

Fortunately for us, the country has just taken delivery of 20,000 test kits and with the government’s promise of acquiring 50,000 test kits, we should be in the position to embark on aggressive testing to combat the disease.

We therefore, call for intensification of the mass testing to enhance Ghana’s procedures and measures to fight the spread of COVID-19. 

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