COVID-19: 779 health workers infected, nine dead

The Health Sector Unions and Professional Associations say a total of 779 health workers have so far contracted COVID-19 since the outbreak of the disease in Ghana.

This means, on the average, six health sector workers contracting the virus each day since the country recorded its first two cases on March 12, 2020.

In a statement, the health workers said at least nine of their members have died from COVID-19.

The first to succumb to the infection was Professor Jacob Plange-Rhule, a Consultant Physician and a former Rector of the Physicians and Surgeons College.

He died on April 10 and has subsequently been buried.

In June, the Medical Superintendent of the Kwadaso SDA Hospital, Dr Harry Owusu Boateng, followed his senior.

The 48-year-old Specialist Paediatrician died at home on Saturday, June 13, 2020, a few days after he complained of being unwell.

Retired Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr Emmanuel Twagirayesu followed shortly.

The latest to have died was Dr Richard Kisser of the Trust Hospital in Accra. The Consultant Surgeon passed on at the University of Ghana Medical Centre (UGMC).
“These fallen heroes have contributed immensely to the medical profession and their untimely demise constitutes a big loss to the fraternity,” the GMA said in a statement released on July 3.

A laboratory technician also died of coronavirus, leaving behind a wife and a two-month-old baby.

He was a staff at the Weija-Gbawe Municipal hospital in the Greater Accra Region, and died on Monday, June 22, 2020, at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital.

The death of a community health nurse was also reported in May.

Those deaths are not sitting well with the health workers.

“As of June 30, 2020, over seven hundred and seventy-nine (779) health workers had contracted the COVID- 19 virus, in the line of duty, with a total of nine (9) deaths, having occurred so far. A large number of health workers are also currently in isolation, awaiting their test results, after having been exposed to the virus at their places of work.”

“The data gathered so far indicates that 190 members of the GMA (Doctors) have contracted the virus with four unfortunate deaths. 410 members of the GRNMA and its Allied Associations (Nurses and Midwives) have contracted the virus with one unfortunate death. 156 members of the HSWU have contracted the virus with three unfortunate deaths. 23 members of the GHOSPA have contracted the virus with one unfortunate death,” the statement noted.

The health sector unions attributed the development to what they believe are serious lapses in the government’s management of the COVID-19 situation.

According to them, the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers has been erratic.

Despite the supply of the PPE being irregular, the health workers also said those they received were inappropriate.

They, however, admitted that some of their colleagues at the various health facilities failed to strictly adhere to the COVID-19 preventive measures.

The joint health sector unions in their statement accused managers of the health facilities of keeping them in the dark when it came to informing them of their colleagues who have tested positive for the virus.

“Non-disclosure or concealment of information from health workers by facility managers when colleagues test positive for COVID-19 at the workplace… Delays in the receipt of COVID-19 test results for patients being managed onwards resulting in increased exposure of health personnel to the virus,” they indicated were some of the constraints.


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