The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) says no positive case of COVID-19 has been imported into Ghana through any of her sea ports.
Dr Vitus Victor Anaab-Bisi, General Manager of Health Services Department, GPHA, revealing this, attributed the feat to the rigorous measures put in place at sea ports by the Port Authority in collaboration with other partner stakeholders including the Port Health Unit of the Ghana Health Service.
Dr Anaab-Bisi indicated that GPHA did not wait for the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare COVID-19 a pandemic before it started its awareness programmes, adding that sensitization of port stakeholders commenced in January, two months before a positive case was recorded in Ghana.
He said to ensure Ghana’s ports were safe from the importation and spread of the coronavirus and to protect the port’s role as a major economic asset for the state, the GPHA invested money in preventive protocols.
“We had to spend to support Government and keep our staff, clients, and our business going. If we do not keep the ports safe, and the ports close down, Ghana will come to a halt,” he stated.
He said, the Management of GPHA despite its financial constraints, recognized the desperate times the country was in and therefore procured all the needed equipment to augment the health services’ capacity to ensure that the port’s clients, and operators within the port community were protected the coronavirus.
Some of the strategies he revealed, were the introduction of the mandatory health declaration forms that ensured that seafarers who use Ghana’s ports were remotely monitored.
“What we did was that we designed a quick COVID-19 declaration form for all vessels. We distributed them to all shipping lines, and all clearing agents, so before a vessel will call our ports, they have to fill by answering critical questions concerning COVID-19 and provide feedback by email”.
Touching on the issue of mass testing of the general public, he said it was not advisable due to the financial implications it would have on an economy like Ghana.
“To do the mass testing with no justification, I do not advise it. There must be prudent use of resources. It is not sustainable, “he said, adding that mass testing especially in institutions may not be useful in stemming the spread of coronavirus.
Dr Anaab-Bisi explained that the virus was such that it could be transmitted anytime, any day therefore a person could test negative at a particular time and still contract the virus some minutes or days after.
He called for proper contact tracing and testing of persons who might have come into contact with positive cases instead of a blanket mass testing.
He also called for regular fumigation and disinfection of enclosed areas, as it was another reliable and cost-efficient method of reducing the spread of the coronavirus especially at the organisational level.
“Regular, periodic fumigation would help, with the appropriate chemicals that would last for long. When someone who is infected sneezes or coughs in that environment, the chemical will supress it and people will be at less risk. We advise that for enclosed facilities,” he said.