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General News of Friday, 27 March 2020


Coronavirus: KATH quarantines 20 healthcare workers

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The Herald, is learning that about 20 healthcare workers at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), have been exposed to the Coronavirus; the deadly virus killing thousands globally.

All have been traced and quarantine on the case of the said person, who died in Kumasi, the Ashanti Regional capital, The Herald’s sources at KATH, have disclosed.

The 84-year old’s travel history, showed that he arrived in Ghana from the US on March 12, and reported with low grade fever and respiratory distress.

He had been to three facilities and eventually referred to KATH, but was managed for Pulmonary Embolism (PE).Which is a blockage of an artery in the lungs by a substance that has moved from elsewhere in the body through the bloodstream. Symptoms of a PE may, include shortness of breath, chest pain particularly upon breathing in, and coughing up blood.

However, sample sent for COVID-19 on the deceased did not come early. The result tested positive after he had passed by which time caregivers, including mortuary attendants, family members and other patients, were potentially exposed to the deadly virus, which has killed thousands worldwide.

Additional information is that, he was sent to the emergency on Saturday, but his initial history, wasn’t suggestive of COVID-19, so got admitted for a different diagnosis to one of the emergency wards.

But as they took a detailed history, it became apparent that, the patient may be having COVID-19, so samples were taken, by the time the results came, the patient, had died and was already at the morgue.

The results were positive. Because the initial history was evasive, the attending staff, were not in full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and so were exposed.

The exact number of staff potentially exposed is not yet known, but those who have direct contact with the deceased have had their risk profiles taken, and those at high risks, have been Quarantined with others told to observe self-isolation in their homes.

“He was an elderly Ghanaian. Had lived in the US for a long time. He had no recent travel history, so he was a case of community spread”, additional sources told The Herald.

The fear is that, those who have been put under self-isolation, might have infested others, especially if they joined public transport to and from work.

It comes with report that, many health workers are at eminent danger of contracting the disease, because they have no PPE namely, Gloves, aprons, long sleeved gowns, surgical masks, eye goggles, face visors and respirator masks to work with, while working on suspected COVID-19 cases at the high risk exposure to blood, body fluids and infectious agents.

The absence of the PPE, as confirmed from the KATH incident, has put medical doctors, Health Assistants, Community Health Nurses, Midwives and Nurses, Physician Assistants, Laboratory Technicians and Laboratory Scientists, mortuary attendants and others at a high risk.

They number over 100,000, meaning the current 50,000 the Akufo-Addo government is claiming to have imported, will not be enough.

The situation from KATH, also comes with reports that, Ghana’s two centers for testing the disease; Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) and Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research (KCCR), are not enough for a country of over 30 million people.

Experts, have asked that more testing centers should be set up in many part of the country, especially the regional hospitals to help ease pressure on the two research centres.

Lack of Coronavirus test kits, across the country, has also been raised as another critical issue confronting the Ghanaian Healthcare workers.

Last week, House Officers, wrote to the management of Greater Accra Regional Hospital, saying “with the current incidence rate and the alarming rate at which the COVID-19 virus is spreading in our beloved country. It is enough to cause much fear and panic across the state”.

The letter said, “in view of this , We, the house officers at GARH , wish to humbly request that the hospital management provides us with adequate level one protection materials against the virus, since we are the frontlines and first responders to any patient who presents at the emergency”.

“The level one protection includes disposable surgical caps, disposable surgical mask, disposable aprons, gloves and goggles”, the House Officers mentioned, adding “We also humbly wish to request for a written statement of the measures the hospital is going to take when a house officer comes into contact with a suspected case or gets infected with the much dreaded virus”.

“We would also like to add that a pandemonium has been caused by the lack of the delivery of genuine information to us house officers concerning the state of isolation centers, how affected patients are doing, which hospitals are being converted into isolation centers. We humbly wish that this would be addressed” the House Officer stated.

“We humbly request for a positive response to our letter by Monday. No response or a negative response would push us to the uncomfortable decision of a sit down strike and subsequently vacation of our duty post by Wednesday if we still have no response”.

“We seek these as precautionary measures to prevent the virus from infecting us, our senior colleagues, our families at home and the general public”.

It was copied to the Medical Director Ministry of Health, the Clinical director and others.

COVID-19, has already claimed over 4000 health workers in Italy.

Meanwhile, most African countries, including Ghana, are awaiting the Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundations for assistance in fight against the COVID-19.

Africa’s response outbreak, received a boost as the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the Government of Ethiopia, received a consignment of medical equipment from the Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundations.

The shipment, included over 1.5 million laboratory diagnostic test kits and over 100 tons of infection prevention and control commodities.

This relief initiative was launched by the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, the Jack Ma Foundation, and Alibaba Foundation, as part of actions towards implementation of the Africa joint continental strategy for COVID-19, led by the African Union (AU) through Africa CDC.

“On behalf of the Chairperson of the African Union, His Excellency, Cyril Ramaphosa, we thank the Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundations for this generous hospitality and contribution to the continent. We thank His Excellency the Prime Minister, and the Government of Ethiopia, for facilitating the donation,” said Edward Xolisa Makaya, South Africa’s Permanent Representative to Ethiopia and the AU.

“This is a great honour and initiative and a great sign of solidarity that the world needs at this critical time. The test kits and other materials will support African countries in their fight against this outbreak. We are facing a humanitarian situation, an economic situation and a security situation in the continent and Africa CDC clearly applauds the initiative of the prime minister and the Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundations,” said Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC.

The COVID-19 outbreak, continues to spread rapidly across the continents of the world, claiming thousands of lives and huge resources.

In just about three months, it has caused over 12,000 deaths worldwide and impacted socio-economic activities, particularly tourism and transport.

Ethiopian Airlines, will help distribute the equipment, consisting 20,000 laboratory diagnostic test kits, 100,000 medical masks, and 1000 protective suits and face shields, to each of the Member States as part of their contribution to the fight against COVID-19 in Africa.

“We appeal to our ministries of health to ensure that these materials are distributed and used where they are mostly needed,” said H.E. Ambassador Mohamed Idriss Farah, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Djibouti, Dean of African Diplomatic Corps, and Chair of the African Union Peace and Security Council.

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