Confirmed coronavirus case in Nigeria raises fears of spread in Ghana

Nigeria, Africa most populous country and biggest economy, has confirmed that one person has been affected by the coronavirus. He is Italian.

There are fears the contagion may spread to other West African states like Ghana, because of human mobility between the two English speaking states.

According to the Ghana Statistical Service, the number one destination for Ghanaian migrants in Africa is Nigeria and vice versa.

A World Bank report in 2016 noted that the remittances from Nigeria to Ghana came in second to the United States of America.

The above data shows the interconnections between Ghana and Nigeria.

In Ghana, anxiety has been heightened over the potential spread of the virus to Ghana. The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has issued a statement urging for calm as well as a guidelines on how to prevent contracting the virus.

The statement, signed by Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, the Director General of the GHS, said Ghana has intensify preparedness activities and heighten surveillance at all points of entry to prevent any suspected case of coronavirus (COVID-19) into the country.

The statement further advised the general public to stick to the following precautionary measures of:

  • Regularly wash hands with soap under running water or if possible use hand sanitizers regularly, practice common cough/sneezing etiquette such as covering of mouth with handkerchief or tissue paper when coughing or sneezing, if you have recently arrived from any of the countries that have reported a case.
  • It advise that people stayed away from crowd (self-quarantine) for at least 14 days and in cases of persistent cough or fever, contact the call centre for assistance on these lines; 055 2222 004, 055 2222 005, 050 9497700, 055 8439 868.

"Do not visit any health centre/facility on your own 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," the statement said.

Last week, the GHS announced that a total of nine suspected cases of the deadly coronavirus infection in the country all tested negative.

The cases included the two recent ones reported at the Korle bu Teaching Hospital on Wednesday, February 5, 2020.

“We wish to assure the people of Ghana that the Government, Ministry of Health/Ghana Health Service working in collaboration with partners are doing everything possible to prevent and protect against the importation of the virus into the country and prevent spread,”the GHS said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has designated the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, Ridge, as a coronavirus center as well as the Tema General Hospital.

The University of Ghana, Legon, has also opened three isolation centers for its students and lecturers return from China. The centre will quarantine return students and lecturers from China and other affected countries for 14 days.

So far, the virus has spread to 50 countries and has killed over 2,400 persons.

On social media, many Ghanaians appear unconvinced about the government's preparedness to contain the virus should it spread to Ghana.

"Still wondering why Ghana is allowing flights from china-Ghana when there is outbreak of coronavirus in china. Mr president @NAkufoAddo with all due respect the people of ghana needs to be protected from deadly coronavirus. Pls shutdown flights (sic)," a Twitter user tweeted at President Akufo-Addo's official Twitter handle.

"Corona virus is in Nigerian Down in Ghana, Tema General Hospital a centre for corona virus doesn't have running water," another Twitter user posted, raising infrastructure isseus at the Tema General Hospital, one of the designated Coronavirus centre.

Media personality, Efia Odo, posted: "This corona virus can possibly be in Ghana but we don’t have the right resources to detect it. Everyone honestly be careful out there. Carry hand sanitizers with you and restrain from shaking hands as much as possible."

As anxiety blazes across West Africa and the world at large, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised its global risk assessment of the coronavirus to “very high.”

Worldwide, at least 83,000 cases have been confirmed in 50 countries and more than 2,800 people have died. In addition, 36,000 patients have recovered from the virus, nonetheless, officials of WHO have expressed concern the disease could overwhelm countries across Africa and South America.

“Our greatest concern is about the potential for spread in countries with weaker health systems,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a January speech.

According to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 African nations have reported suspected coronavirus cases to date.

In Kenya, flights to China, the epicenter of the virus, have been cancelled. In Ghana, Ghanaian student in Wuhan, where the virus was first recorded, have been urged to stay indoors, dashing hopes of possible repatriation.

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