The Ministry of Health (MoH) has advised the public to promptly report to the nearest health facility when they suspect an infection with the coronavirus.

Any person could be exposed to the SARS-like virus (2019-nCov) especially those who had travelled to any of the countries with recorded cases, it cautioned.

Business24

The symptoms include the common cold, sore throat, running nose, coughing, pneumonia and sometimes fever. It has, however, been reported that infected persons who do not show any symptoms could also spread the virus.

A statement signed by the Sector Minister, Mr Kwaku Agyeman- Manu, and copied to the Ghana News Agency, to give an update of the situation, said Ghana was working the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other partners to monitor the situation and institute measures to prevent an outbreak.

It was also preparing to designate more case management centres in the highly populated areas of Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi and Tamale.

The virus was first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and since January 7, 2020, cases had been recorded in about 15 countries globally.

These include the United States of America, South Korea, France, Taiwan, Canada, Cambodia, Australia, Germany, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lana and Thailand.

More than 100 people have now died in China, with confirmed infections surging to more than 4,500.
Germany and Japan, on Monday, confirmed that they had had cases involving people who had not travelled to China but caught the virus from someone who had.

Vietnam, which borders with China, had earlier reported an incident where someone was infected by his father who had travelled from Wuhan.

The Ministry, therefore, urged citizens to adhere to the prescribed preventive measures, which include regular washing of hands with soap and water, use of alcohol hand rub where available, and keeping a distance of at least one step (one meter) from a person showing signs of fever, cough and difficulty in breathing.

They should also avoid the touching of eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands when in contact with a sick person or with potentially infected surfaces or objects.

“It is also advisable to be physically active, drink plenty of water, eat well, reduce stress and have enough sleep, seek treatment immediately if infection is suspected, or if symptoms occur or when advised by a health worker and report any symptoms to the nearest health facility,” the Ministry said.

The Coronavirus is a family of viruses that include common cold and viruses such as SARS and MERS.

The virus was first identified in 1960, and on December 31, 2019, WHO was alerted to several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City, the Hubei Province of China.

Since the recent outbreak of the Novel Corona Virus Infection, the Ministry said, it had initiated steps to prevent and control any case that may be detected in the country.

It has thus triggered the National Emergency preparedness and response plan based on the following thematic areas:

“1. Coordination
a. National Technical Coordination Committee Meeting- this committee is constituted by experts from the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service, the World Health Organisation, Veterinary Services Department, Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research (NMIMIR), the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention among others. The meeting was held on the 23 rd January 2020 and regular meetings are scheduled to update and review national response

b. Activation of Regional and District Public Health Emergency Management Committee (PHEMC)- this is constituted by regional and district level leadership of all sectors including local government, security services, health and other key partners. Alerts have been sent to all regions and districts.

2. Surveillance
a. Develop case definition- A case definition has been developed to help clinicians detect potential cases and manage appropriately.

b. Send Alert to Regions and Teaching Hospitals — Alerts have been sent to all regions and Teaching Hospitals including the points of entries on the outbreak. The alert also detailed clinical features of the infection and gave guidance on prevention.

c. Sensitisation of Healthcare Workers (HCW)- Ongoing sensitisation of health care staff especially at the points of entry and the designated treatment centres are ongoing. Large scale sensitization and training of HCWs are also planned.

d. Active surveillance – The development of case definition and the issuance of alerts are part of measures instituted to ensure active surveillance at the various health facilities and points of entry

3. Points of Entry

a. Enhanced screening including the use of health declaration form the existing health declaration form has been modified to suit the current outbreak.

The administration of the health declaration form started on Friday 24th January 2020 and was restricted initially to airlines with connections to China. Currently, the declaration form is applied to all international arrivals at Terminal 3 of the Kotoka International Airport.

Screening for fever using the walk-through thermometers and non-contact thermometers are ongoing at KIA and other points of entry. Efforts are underway to ensure that all the points of entry have non-contact thermometers

4. Laboratory (NMIMR)
Logistics for diagnosis – Our contact with the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) indicates that they have the capacity to diagnose coronavirus infection and we have designated NMIMR laboratory for coronavirus investigations.

5. Case Management
a. Ridge Hospital and Tema General Hospitals have been designated as initial case management centres. Regional Directors have been

b. Instructed to designate holding/ treatment centres in their respective regions. We are preparing to designate more centres in the highly populated areas of Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi and Tamale.

c. Case Management Teams Activated- teams to manage cases at the designated national centres are receiving orientation on the management of cases.

6. Risk Communication
Development of social media messages for the general public. These are aimed at informing the public on the disease and to inculcate the necessary preventive measures”.

It urged the public to access the following websites for further information.
www.who.int; www.moh.gov.gh; www.ghanahealthservice.org;www.cdc.gov
and www.wahooas.org.

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