At least 83 health workers contract COVID-19 in Ghana
No less than 83 health workers in Ghana have been infected with the dreaded coronavirus, with one death that shocked the medical fraternity.
Healthcare professionals, especially doctors and nurses, in Greater Accra, Eastern, Central, Western, Ashanti and Upper East regions have contracted the deadly COVID-19.
Greater Accra, Ashanti, Central and Eastern regions are the country’s hot spots for the disease, recording more than 5,000 cases.
The most recent of the reported cases among healthcare professionals was on Friday, when the Deputy Director of Health in the Eastern Region, Dr Albert Antobre-Boateng, confirmed that15 health workers in the region were undergoing treatment for the disease.
He told Accra-based Citi FM, “We are ensuring that all health workers irrespective of your category or whatever you’re doing, once in the boundaries of the facility you will be in a face mask.”
With the Eastern Region recording 106 cases as of Saturday, May 23, it implies 14% of the total infections are health workers.
This came after reports of 13 health officials tested positive at Moree in the Central Region. The healthcare providers were attending to fishermen who had returned to Ghana from fishing expeditions to neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire and other West African countries along the Atlantic Ocean.
Accra-based Joy FM reported on Friday, May 22 that five out of the 13 have been admitted to treatment centres, while the rest were advised to self-isolate, including the driver who transported the officials.
The fishermen are undergoing mandatory 14-day quarantine, but some have tested positive for the coronavirus, even though asymptomatic.
The District Director of Health Services at Abura-Asebu-Kwamankese, Dr Gifty Ankrah, said losing health officials to COVID-19 was a major blow.
However, she said they were strategising to manage the situation as cases continue to soar across the country.
The region has recorded 297 cases, which make the health workers 4.3% of the lot.
Along with the spread is the report of 20 health workers contracting the infection at the Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital in the Western Region.
On May 14, 2020, the three units of the facility, including the Antenatal Care Unit, the Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) Department and another unit, were shut for disinfection exercises to prevent further spread.
The Medical Director of the hospital, Dr Joseph Kojo Tambil, emphasised that it was imminent for such measures to be implemented due to the infectious nature of the pathogen.
“Currently, we are disinfecting those two units and every surface, floor and ceiling to make sure that we minimise the risk of anybody coming into contact with any droplets,” he explained.
Elsewhere, the Ashanti Regional Health Director, Dr Emmanuel Tenkorang, revealed at a news conference on Wednesday, April 20, that 30 doctors and nurses have tested positive for the contagion.
The figure represents approximately 3% of the total 1,010 recorded cases.
Prior to this, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr Daniel Asare, confirmed in an interview with Accra-based Asempa FM on April 3 that a nurse was down with coronavirus.
It emerged that she worked at the Medical Ward of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH).
In March, Dr Gillian Bougee, a paediatrician in charge of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital, contracted the virus after coming into contact with a patient.
At the time, the status of the patient was not known, but she was confirmed to be positive at a later date.
The doctor had to be airlifted and transferred to the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital where she was treated and recovered fully after weeks in the intensive care unit.
In the same month, there was one case of a medical doctor at the Ledzokuku Municipal Hospital (LEKMA Hospital) in Teshie and another which involved a specialist Anaesthetist at the Greater Accra Regional Hospital.
Perhaps, the biggest blow was the death of the Rector of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Professor Jacob Plange-Rhule.
He died on Friday, April 10, at the University of Ghana Medical Centre (UGMC), where he was receiving treatment. The former President of the Ghana Medical Association became the first doctor to be killed in relation to coronavirus.
It appears that even though the Greater Accra Region has 4,699 total cases, the percentage of infected health workers is less than the Western and Ashanti regions.
The infection among Ghanaian healthcare professionals are a fraction of healthcare professional globally contracting the disease, as challenges with personal protective equipment, and momentarily slip in adherence to safety protocols get doctors and nurses, particularly infected.
While more than 100 doctors and nurses reportedly contracted the disease in the United Kingdom, the US Centre for Disease Control reported in April that more than 9,000 American healthcare professionals were infected.
The International Council of Nurses ICN, an international organisation of nurses and medical personnel, has also released tragic statistics stating that a total of 90,000 medical volunteers worldwide have been infected with the coronavirus. Sixty nurses lost their lives.