The Director-General of Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, has advised Ghanaians to stay safe from the COVID-19 virus during the Christmas festivities to prevent new variants from spreading.
He said Ghana has seen a significant decline in the pandemic over the past three months, however, there are surges in cases being reported in some countries including China (the source of the pandemic).
Dr Kuma-Aboagye, speaking at a media briefing in Accra on Sunday, said the need to sustain the gains made so far must be our guiding principle.
“The Ghana Health Service is issuing this updated guide on COVID-19 prevention in Ghana due to the Christmas festivities and the attendant risk factors due to expected large gatherings, increased travel, movements and brisk activities that may be experienced during the period,” he added.
He said though the disease burden is low now, there is a higher risk of disease transmission among persons when in enclosed spaces such as Churches, Mosques and other religious venues, stadia and other event venues, cinema theatres, night clubs, in Airplanes, other public places with poor ventilation or closed air circulation such as venues with air-conditioning.
According to him, recommendations for Churches, Mosques and other religious venues irrespective of size, use of air-conditioning or otherwise are as follows: Face Mask use by all worshipers at all times during worship, persons using shared microphones, in particular, are encouraged to ensure that masks are on all the time.
He again said hand hygiene facilities (veronica buckets, hand sanitisers) are to be provided at all such venues and leaders are advised to encourage members to appropriately use such facilities.
Dr Kuma-Aboagye added that there is an ongoing vaccination campaign across the country and though the campaign officially ended on Sunday, most of the centres would still be opened to have more people vaccinated to help decrease the spread of the virus.
He further said strict enforcement of protocols on international travel is key to reducing the importation of cases and therefore, adherence to COVID-19 protocols is still essential.
On Ghana’s preparedness to continue the fight, he said bed capacity for managing severe and critical cases increased from 64 in 2020 to 1,150 currently nationwide of which 15 more treatment centres are to be operationalized early next year.
“Over 21 million doses of vaccines administered and continuous community engagements at all levels with the dissemination of information on protocol adherence would help to fight the virus during this festive season,” he noted.
Joyce Adwoa Animia Ocran, ISD