The government of Ghana has rejected calls by a section of the public to close down Senior High Schools (SHSs) across the country due to surge in COVID-19 infections in the institutions.
A total of 14 SHSs in six regions (provinces), out of the 16 in the West African country have so far recorded cases of the virus. In all, 35 students out of the over 300,000 students have contracted the disease.
But Communications Minister, Ursula Owusu Ekuful told journalists here over the weekend the students would be better protected in a secured environment than being asked to go home and that it would be a bad decision to close down schools.
“To close down schools is not the best because we all don’t know when COIVD-19 is going away. I think our students are safer in our schools which is an enclosed area than closing down schools to allow them to go home,” she said.
Global Health and Infectious Disease expert Dohn Humphrey Amuasi observed it would not be right to close down schools in the country due to the fact that there have been few cases recorded in some secondary schools.
“The fact that there is an infection of two or three or few cases does not mean there should be closure of schools and that this is the time to reflect on school re-opening and its attendant problems,” he said.
The Infectious Disease expert expressed worry about the delay in testing and the release of results in the country and urged the government to conduct testing in the affected schools as a matter of urgency.
“There should be a movement of quick testing in schools to test people of close contact to have a clear understanding of the situation,” Amuasi emphasized.
Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo announced closure of schools across the country on March 16 due to the spread of the pandemic.
The president further imposed a lockdown in four major areas amid other restrictions in the across the country.
Subsequently, the government announced the easing of the restrictions and re-opened schools. However, some secondary schools recorded cases of COVID-19 two weeks after the re-opening.
Following the spread of the virus in the schools, the government deployed a team of 200 personnel to monitor and contain the situation.
The team was drawn from the Ghana Education Service (GES), Ghana Health Service (GHS), as well as regional and district directorates of education.
In addition, health institutions were mapped with health facilities to ensure that suspected cases were promptly dealt with in accordance with the laid-down protocols.
Ghana’s COVID-19 case count, according to the GHS stood at 24,518 with 20,187 recoveries and 139 deaths on Monday.