Let’s scale up emergency preparedness to fight COVID-19 – WHO

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged government and relevant healthcare stakeholders to scale up their emergency preparedness efforts to enable the country to combat the deadly Coronavirus (COVID-19) should it surface.

Mrs Joana Ansong, the National Programme Officer, WHO Country Office, said the Organisation was impressed with government’s measures, especially across the country’s various entry points, to deal with any outbreak of the virus.

However, she said stringent emergency measures should be adopted to enable the country to detect, protect, isolate and treat any case it might record.

Mrs Ansong was speaking at a sensitisation workshop for faith-based and non-governmental organisations in Accra on Thursday.

The programme, organised by the Ghana Health Service, was to empower religious leaders and Non-profit organisations by providing them with the necessary information about the disease to enable them to play lead roles in the fight against the virus.

Mrs Ansong said the WHO was deeply concerned about the alarming levels of spread and severity, however she was optimistic that countries and Ghana in particular should be able to control any outbreak with the right measures in place.

“In the past two weeks the number of cases of COVID-19 outside China has increased thirteen fold and the number of affected countries have tripled.”

“However, we know that some countries have actually demonstrated that this virus can be suppressed and controlled, especially in China where they are recording fewer cases. We therefore need to be prepared and be ready as a country. We should be able to detect, protect and treat any confirmed case should it happen here,” she said.

She commended government for the commitment it had shown to dealing with any discovered case of the virus.

The virus, which had so far spread to more than 100 countries and territories since its outbreak in December last year, has killed more 4,600 people worldwide.

The WHO on Wednesday declared the COVID-19 a pandemic after more than half of the world’s countries recorded cases of the virus.

Ghana is yet to record any confirmed case, having had all 57 suspected cases recorded turn out negative after tests were conducted.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has, therefore, announced a $100 million package to enhance the country’s preparedness and response plan towards the prevention of the COVID-19, should it rear its head.

Dr Garba Maina Ahmed, the Country Team Leader, Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) Ghana, reiterated the need for government to step up actions.

He said the WHO, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the World Organisation for Animal Health, were conducting studies to ascertain the role animals played, if any, in the outbreak and spread of the virus.

Dr Ahmed, therefore, urged the Government and Ghanaians to adhere to the WHO’s guidelines to avoid and ensure protection against any possible outbreak.

Dr Patrick Kuma Aboagye, the Director General, Ghana Health Service, in a remark made on his behalf, assured the public of the Service’s readiness to deal with any outbreak.

He said so far the GHS had adhered strictly to the WHOs guidelines and had set up various teams such as the Inter-Coordinating Technical Team, chaired by the Minister of Health, Risk Communication Team, and Case Management and Surveillance Teams to avoid a possible outbreak and if any, detect and treat on time.

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