The Ghana Health Service (GHS) on Wednesday called for strict enforcement of COVID-19 safety protocols at all levels to avert a major third wave in the country.
A review of the Ghana Health Service and partners on the current COVID-19 situation and response identified the total disregard of COVID-19 safety protocols, as a challenge that could lead to the increasing number of new infections over a short period which could overwhelm the health system and further worsen the outbreak.
“The threat of a third major wave in Ghana is very real,” the GHS noted, and said “even though it had some strides in strengthening its current systems to fight COVID-19, it could be overwhelmed if the third wave was not averted, especially driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant”.
The GHS through a communique available to the Ghana News Agency at Tema
said “It is imperative that the public revisit the four key measures – appropriate face mask use-wearing the face mask at all times when in public; hand hygiene-effective hand washing or the use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; maintaining social distancing; and cough etiquette, to prevent COVID-19 third wave in Ghana”.
The communique was issued by the Ghana Health Service, subsequent to a high level strategic meeting of Senior Managers on the increasing cases of COVID-19.
The GHS said the public health measures needed to prevent transmission remained the same and what the country needed was the strict adherence to the protocols by all persons living in Ghana, whether vaccinated or not.
According to GHS, the emergence of new variants with higher infectivity further complicated the currently observed non-adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols.
In addressing the gaps pertaining to the disregard of safety protocols, the GHS said, the mobilization of opinion leaders, religious leaders, traditional leaders, key influencers, putting in place contextualized risk communication messages for locations such as schools, workplaces, and the establishment and enforcement to adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols, were key to averting another wave.
“Scale up testing capacity for COVID-19, antigen testing will be used as part of rapid response in locations where there are outbreaks such as schools, workplaces and at Point of Entries (POEs) for surveillance.
“Strengthen contact tracing, quarantine and isolation; continue to strengthen the capacity for case management including oxygen supply, we also request that all persons who fall ill must report to the nearest health facility for testing and appropriate treatment,” it added.
On vaccination, the GHS said, its importance in limiting transmission could not be overemphasized.
The GHS added that Ghana was increasing its capacity to handle different brands of vaccines including; for those that required ultra-cold storage facilities.
Therefore, it said, Ghana was trying to source more vaccines to cover as many people as possible prioritizing hotspots regions, districts, highly populated areas and at-risk groups-persons 60 years and above and those with underlying medical conditions.
The GHS noted that despite all those efforts, vaccine hesitancy needed to be tackled to ensure maximum vaccine uptake when available.
“Recommending the use of rapid diagnostic tests at all POEs, monitoring of the situation at the Kotoka International Airport on COVID-19 cases arriving in Ghana and institute appropriate measures”.
The GHS said surveillance and screening would be undertaken at seaports and landing beaches.