Ghana records new strains of COVID-19

As countries like the UK prepare to shut their travel corridors over new COVID-19 variants, Ghana has joined the list of countries to have recorded some of these new strains.

“Recent Genomic sequencing undertaken by our scientists have established that some arriving passengers tested positive for new variants of COVID-19. These passengers have all been isolated,”  President Akufo-Addo said in his latest COVID-19 address to the nation.

He said scientists in Ghana had been tasked to investigate if the country had recorded any of such new strains of the coronavirus disease, COVID-19.

“Furthermore, work is ongoing to determine to presence and extent of spread of the new variants in the general population,” he said.

Ghana opened the Kotoka International Airport to international travellers on September 1, 2020, joining the league of countries that have opened up after more than six months of isolation.

But like most countries across the world, the government is jittery over the possibility of a spread of new strains of the virus said to be more lethal than the first one.

The United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Nigeria, India, and South Africa have reported a wave of the new strain of the deadly virus which has kept the world on its knees since it slipped out of Wuhan China in December 2019.

Apart from the spike in infections, a global phenomenon, that has forced some countries including the UK, Germany and France into another round of lockdowns, the President expressed worry about lifestyle choices spreading the disease in Ghana.

“Detailed investigation of the cases indicate that apart from arriving passengers at our airport who tested positive, infected persons have a recent history of attending parties, weddings, end of year office programmes, family get-togethers, and funerals,” the President said.

He lamented the blatant disregard for COVID-19 protocols, including the wearing of nose masks during those functions.

“At these gatherings, most of them abandoned the use of the mask and were engaged in actions that led to them contracting [the] virus.”

President Akufo-Addo, further expressed fear that the country’s health facilities could be overwhelmed should the population continue to flout outlined COVID-19 protocols.

“It will severely undermine the efforts the government is making to revitalise the economy and put our nation back on to the path of progress and prosperity following the ravages of the pandemic.”

Ghana’s COVID-19 cases have ballooned by over 350 per cent within three months.

As of October 8, 2020, official figures from the Ghana health service stood at 298.

These figures have, however, shot up drastically to 1,924 as of Sunday, January 17, as the country records more than 500 cases in two days.

The rising cases are also taking a toll on healthcare facilities as the President said ” Our COVID-19 treatment centres have gone from having zero patients to now being full because of the upsurge in infections.”

“Particularly worrying is the fact that the Ghana Health Service is recording, on the average, 200) new cases of COVID infections daily. The number of patients requiring hospitalisation and intensive care is rising. The number of severe cases, which stood at 18 a week ago, has increased sharply to one 120.

“Two weeks ago, there was no critical case, we now have 33 in our treatment facilities. Again, according to statistics from the Ghana Health Service, the considerable number of persons who are severely ill are, surprisingly, relatively youthful persons, with no previous underlying health conditions,” an exasperated Mr Akufo-Addo said.

At least 352 individuals have died from the disease across the country.

So far, 13 out of the 16 regions in Ghana have recorded fresh cases of the coronavirus disease, COVID-19.

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