West and Central Africa COVID-19 Digest

Situation Report
Trends

Ghana

More than 2,000 health workers infected by the new coronavirus in Ghana

  • First case: 12 March 2020

  • Total cases: 28,989 (as of 23 July 2020)

  • Total deaths: 153

  • Schools: Universities and schools reopened on 15 June to allow for final-year university, senior high and junior high school learners to resume classes for their exams.

  • Borders/flights: All borders closed.

  • Containment measures: On 31 May, President Akufo-Addo outlined a phased easing of the restrictions on some public gatherings to occur over the month of June:

    • Beginning 5 June, restaurants may reopen with appropriate social distancing precautions, and conferences, workshops, weddings, and private burials are permitted with a maximum attendance of 100 persons.

    • Religious services may take place at 25% attendance, or a maximum of 100 attendees, beginning 5 June.

    • Large sporting events, political rallies, festivals, and religious events remain suspended until 31 July. Nightclubs, bars, beaches, and cinemas will also remain closed until 31 July.

Situation:

Some 2,065 health workers in Ghana have been infected with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic in the country, according to authorities. As of 16 July, however, only six medical staff have reportedly died of the virus in the country. Ghana, which has one of the best screening rates in sub-Saharan Africa, has recorded 139 deaths since the virus first appeared in the country on Friday for a total of 26,125 infections, according to official figures. Nevertheless, as early as April, the country's main medical union complained of the lack of protective equipment for the population and particularly for health workers. The director-general of public health services insisted on the fact that recently "the number of infections among health workers dropped considerably" thanks to a better distribution of equipment. The government also provided tax breaks and financial bonuses to doctors and nurses working on the front line against the epidemic.

Collective prayers in Ghana were allowed again from 29 May, but on the condition that they do not gather more than 100 people and last less than an hour. President Nana Akufo-Addo announced further easing of the existing restrictions: conferences, weddings, political activities can again be held, but also without exceeding 100 participants. However, borders remain closed, and festivals and sporting events are still prohibited.

The COVID-19 outbreak and the consequent containment measures may have significant impact on the health, security and overall economic development of Ghana, including:

•A slow in trade and reduced economic growth, resulting in a loss of revenue opportunities, especially for poor, mainly women-led, households who live on daily subsistence; •Potential reversal in gains in well-being, given under-resourced health system and public health infrastructure and low access to basic sanitation; •Limited access to social support services, education and health services, livelihood support programmes disproportionately affecting vulnerable populations; •Increased risk of sexual and gender-based violence, including, domestic violence and sexual exploitation and abuse, especially during the lockdown period, and increased cases of child exploitation and human trafficking; •Given Ghana’s population of 30 million, a significant number may be affected,with conservative models estimating 15% infection rate and 0.6% mortality.

Response:

The Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Committee(IMCC) has been set up by President Nana Akufo-Addo, it is the apex coordinating body for the COVID-19 response.

The National Technical Coordinating Committee (NTCC) serves as a technical expert committee in the monitoring of the implementation.The NTCC is chaired by Ghana Health Service’s Director General and co-chaired by WHO.

The National Public Health Emergency Operations Centre (PHEOC) is the mechanism responsible for coordinating COVID-19 response activities (Director, Public Health). It is activated when there is an outbreak and the activation scaled-up depending on the risks and epidemiological situation of the outbreak.

In Ghana, the UN coordination structure is as follows:

•UNRC a.i./Designated Official, advised by the COVID-19 Outbreak Coordination Committee

•UN Country Team/Security Management Team

•Five UNCT / SMT sub-working groups related to the COVID-19 response: 1)Medical SWG; 2) Psychosocial Support SWG; 3) Communications SWG; 4) Operations Management SWG; 5) Programme Response SWG.

UNDP is working with the UN Country Team to support Government in finalizing and implementing its response plan.The Programme Response Working Group of the Outbreak Response Coordination Mechanism for UN Ghana leads the development of a costed UN Country Preparedness and Response Plan (CPRP) for Ghana in partnership with the national authorities. UNDP is a member of the team that is mapping out UN Capacity, comparative advantage and coordinated offer (current and potential) to support the national response. The World Bank is providing $100 million to Ghana to assist the country in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic as short, medium and long-term support. This financing package includes $35 million in emergency support to help the country provide improved response systems. Under this emergency package the World Bank will support the Government of Ghana to help prevent, detect, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic through the Ghana Emergency Preparedness and Response Project (EPRP). The EPRP will help strengthen Ghana’s National Laboratories by providing robust systems for the early detection of COVID-19 cases and providing real time disease surveillance and reporting systems of outbreaks. It will also improve the response system by providing social and financial support and free health services to COVID-19 patients and families who are isolated or quarantined.

Useful links:

https://ghanahealthservice.org/covid19/

https://www.undp.org/content/dam/rba/docs/COVID-19-CO-Response/undp-rba-covid-ghana-apr2020.pdf

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