Coronavirus: Korle Bu records two suspected cases
The Korle Bu Teaching Hospital has received two medical cases suspected to be 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) infections.
The cases were reported on Thursday and involve two foreigners – a Chinese and an Argentine – who were both referred to Ghana’s premier hospital from an undisclosed health facility in Accra.
Dr Winfred Baah, Divisional Secretary of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), Greater Accra, who confirmed the development indicated that further assessment and laboratory tests will be carried out to ascertain the presence of the deadly infection or otherwise.
The death toll of the outbreak which emanated from a seafood market in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, has climbed to 500 with 24, 300 confirmed cases worldwide. The majority of the fatalities are from mainland China forcing a lockdown of cities in the Hubei Province. Chinese authorities, with aid from the World Health Organisation (WHO) are battling to contain the pneumonia-like infection which has no vaccine and cure.
The first cases were recorded in December. By early January the number of cases had ballooned spreading to neighbouring Asian countries.
Dr Baah, a Consultant Physician with the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital said on Thursday’s edition of Joy TV’s PM Express which was monitored by theghanareport,com that he was informed about the two cases by some junior doctors. The patients have been isolated and their samples taken for further analyses.
[Watch from 12-minute mark]
The Public Health Director at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital also corroborated that indeed such cases have been reported at the emergency centre, Dr Baah narrated.
“They (the patients) walked in here. Apparently, they said they went to another facility, I will not mention the name. When they (first health facility officials) saw them with this malaise and all the symptoms [of coronavirus], they were like ‘go to Korle Bu’. They didn’t even attend to them,” he bemoaned.
He said the first hospital gave the directives despite the information by the Ministry of Health that the coronavirus case centres are the Greater Accra Regional Hospital and the Tema General Hospital.
“They (patients) also came to Korle Bu, they walked in and got into the emergency room and then everybody is panicking”.
He criticised the facility of failure to establish appropriate communication with health officials at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital to make adequate preparation to receive the patients.
The Chinese is reported to have departed his home country in September 2019 before the outbreak. The Argentinean, however, visited Shanghai in January before coming to Ghana. The two share a living space here in Ghana.
“They all developed some symptoms that fit the case definition but it doesn’t mean they have,” Dr Baah was quick to add.
One has catarrh and muscle pains and “we have taken samples [of their fluids] and sent to Noguchi and we are taking another sample in the morning tomorrow (Friday)”.
He was concerned that the two were not transported in an ambulance and probably used a public transport system to Korle Bu. Additionally, they just made their way to the accident centre which has patients “whose immune systems are low”.
The sequence implies that if indeed they are carriers of the airborne infection, they may have come into contact with many people making it easier for the spread of the virus.
Dr Baah subsequently called for measures to be rolled out on a full scale in all health facilities especially provision of adequate personal protective gear for hospital staff who come into contact with such patients.
Coronavirus will get to Ghana sooner or later
Professor William Ampofo, Head of the Virology Department of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, who contributed to the discussion revealed that Ghana is not immune to the infection.
According to him, it is difficult to prevent the entry of a respiratory pathogen to a country. To him, it is just a matter of time for the coronavirus to be recorded in the country.
Influenzas are rife in countries beyond the Atlantic Ocean due to the winter period. Thus, aeroplanes that travel from those areas to other locations are likely to carry some pathogens, he noted.
“Let’s not beat around the bush…Yes! There will be thermal screening [and] they will be looking out for people with fever etc [at the airport] but this virus is going around the world and it will get here sooner or later,” he stated.
More resources are needed to test many samples within a short period of time hence he appealed to the government to make financial allocation available for the necessary preparations in combating the infection.
All is not gloomy as the country has improved capacity to identify viruses from people who show influenza symptoms in order to manage the cases, he stressed.
GHC2.5milion allocated to coronavirus fight
Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyemang Manu, has told parliament that the government has earmarked GHC 2.5 million to fight the infection.
He says public health emergency management systems have been activated at all levels.
He said there have been stakeholder consultation involving the National Technical Coordinating Committee experts from the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service, World Health Organisation, Veterinary Services Department of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), Immigration Service, Security Agencies, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention among others, towards containing an outbreak in the country.
Additionally, authorities have engaged the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana to regulate high risk travels to and from highly affected regions in China to Ghana.
He revealed that there is high active surveillance, case definitions development to identify and manage cases and training of health workers on the coronavirus are ongoing.
There is enhanced screening at heavy traffic entry points especially the KIA where travellers, especially from China, are required to undergo thorough checks before entry into the boundaries of the country.
Health declaration forms to extract salient information from travellers to access risk profile are applied to all international flights at KIA.