The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has reassured Ghanaians that it will continue to intensify its preparedness activities and heighten surveillance at all points of entry to prevent any possible case of Coronavirus (COVID-19) into the country.
The assurance comes after Nigeria, the first African country in Sub Sahara and a neighbouring country, recorded its first confirmed case of the deadly disease, on Thursday, February 28.
It involves an Italian who worked in Nigeria and went to Italy, but returned from Milan on Tuesday, February 25.
The patient is reported by the Federal Health Authorities to be clinically stable, with no serious symptoms.
Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, the Director-General of the GHS, in a statement in Accra, and copied to the Ghana News Agency (GNA), however, urged those who had recently arrived from any of the countries that had reported cases to go into self-quarantine.
They should thus stay away from the crowd for at least 14 days.
In cases of persistent cough or fever, the GHS said, they should not visit any health centre or facility on their own but call the following numbers for assistance: 055 2222 004, 055 2222 005, 050 9497700, 055 8439 868.
“If you have just returned from any of the affected countries, and you are exhibiting symptoms like fever, cough and difficulty in breathing, call the numbers above for assistance," it said.
The GHS also entreated citizens to temporarily avoid non-essential visits to the affected countries.
In order to streamline communication and avoid creating fear and panic, it advised the media to speak to only the following designated experts:
The Director-General, Ghana Health Service-Dr. Patrick Kuma-Abaoagye; the Director of Public Health -Dr. Badu Sarkodie; the Deputy Director, Disease Surveillance Department- Dr. Franklin Asiedu-Bekoe; and Dr Dennis Laryea, the Port Health Coordinator.
It said all media enquiries should also be directed to the Public Relations Unit of the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service.
Citizens, it advised, should avoid spreading messages, which had not been authenticated by the Ministry of Health or Ghana Health Service on social media in order not to cause fear and panic.
The GHS also encouraged the media to devote airtime to educate the public on the preventive measures they may need to adopt to avoid infection and the spread of the disease.
"We will continue to monitor the situation globally and update the general public accordingly," it said.
Meanwhile, it entreated the public to stick to the recommended precautionary measures, including to regularly wash their hands with soap under running water, or if possible, to use hand sanitisers regularly.
They should also practise common cough/sneezing etiquette, such as the covering of mouth with a handkerchief or tissue paper when coughing or sneezing.
Nigeria became the 49th country to report a COVID-19 case.
According to worldometers.info, which is hosted by the American Library Association, 59 countries have so far recorded the viral respiratory disease.
More than 84,000 people have been infected, with more than 2,800 killed. About 99 per cent of the cases are in China, with the City of Wuhan, the epicentre of the disease, being the hardest hit.
However, more than 36,000 people have recovered from the disease.
China reported the outbreak of the SARS-like disease to the World Health Organisation in December 2019.
Ghana has so far tested 25 suspected cases but they have all proven negative.
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