GHS confirms spread of 'Delta' variant of COVID-19 at Achimota School; 46 active cases on campus

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong
GHS confirms spread of 'Delta' variant of COVID-19 at Achimota School; 46 active cases on campus
GHS confirms spread of 'Delta' variant of COVID-19 at Achimota School; 46 active cases on campus

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has confirmed the spread of the 'Delta' variant of the Coronavirus disease at the Achimota School in Accra.

A total of 135 students and teachers initially tested positive for the coronavirus disease on campus with various variants.

But it is 46 who are currently with active cases of the disease on campus as of Sunday, July 4, 2021.

The active cases on the campus of Achimota is a combination of different variants but the Delta variant is the dominant one.

The Director General of the GHS, Dr Patrick Kuma Aboagye who confirmed the presence of the Delta variant at Achimota did not disclose the number of the Delta variant cases at Achimota except to say that a "significant" number of the cases were the Delta variant.

He said the infected students have been quarantined.

Tests are still ongoing on the campus, including some of the students who are day students.

34 Delta variant cases in Ghana

With respect to the Delta variant, the community spread in Ghana was detected on July 1, 2021 and Dr Kuma Aboagye said a total of 34 cases of the variant has since been detected in Ghana.

The Delta variant, which was first detected in India and easily transmissible was first recorded in Ghana in April 2021 but that was at the port of entry at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA).

By June 22, 2021, when the GHS officially announced the presence of the variant in Ghana, it said it was six cases that had been recorded and they were all detected at the port of entry. No community spread had been detected as of then.

The Director General of the GHS, Dr Patrick Kuma Aboagye addressing a press briefing in Accra on Sunday [July 4, 2021] said the Achimota cases have been contained on the campus as of now, even though more people were still being tested.

But he added that it was detected that the adherence of the protocols on the campus of Achimota School was very low.

How the Achimota School situation was detected

Between June 14 and 16, 2021, three students of Achimota School presented to the sickbay of the school with Influenza like symptoms.

All three were investigated for COVID-19 in line with laid down protocols and they all tested positive.

This, according to Dr Kuma Aboagye prompted the activation of the Public Health Emergency Rapid Response Teams (PHERRT) of the Greater Accra Region and the Okaikoi North Municipal of the GHS.

The three students were isolated and other symptomatic students and contacts were identified, listed and also tested for COVID-19.

They were all placed in mandatory quarantine on campus.

Achimota situation as of July 3, 2021

By July 3, 2021, a total of 843 students and staff had been sampled.

348 of them are boarding students, 459 day students and 36 teaching staff.

The results of 550 samples are ready and 135 have tested positive with 293 results still pending.

The 293 pending samples were collected on July 3, 2021.

Status of cases at Achimota

All the 135 cases at the time of diagnosis were either asymptomatic or mild to moderate illness, Dr Aboagye said.

The GHS says one staff is among those affected and approximately two thirds of the cases - 89 - have recovered with 46 current active cases.

Delta more transmissible 

What is different in the genetic make up is that the Delta variant is more transmissible than the original variant.

It means that if the original COVID infected let's say 10 people for each infected person, this one will infect maybe 17 or 18 people.

Biomedical scientists have explained that if you look at the data from all the different countries, it is the Pfizer vaccine that is able to have a more reliable effect on the newer variants in terms of all levels of protection - from hospitalisation, from death, from infection.

The Pfizer vaccine seems to be doing better with these new variant in those different levels of protection, according to the scientists.

The other vaccines give assurance of protection against hospitalisation, from death, severe disease and infection and that the different vaccines provides different levels of protection.

Dr Kuma Aboagye addressing the press briefing on Sunday said 

Tracking SARS-CoV-2 variants

According to the WHO, all viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, change over time.

Most changes have little to no impact on the virus’ properties.

However, some changes may affect the virus’s properties, such as how easily it spreads, the associated disease severity, or the performance of vaccines, therapeutic medicines, diagnostic tools, or other public health and social measures. 

WHO, in collaboration with partners, expert networks, national authorities, institutions and researchers have been monitoring and assessing the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 since January 2020.

During late 2020, the emergence of variants that posed an increased risk to global public health prompted the characterisation of specific Variants of Interest (VOIs) and Variants of Concern (VOCs), in order to prioritise global monitoring and research, and ultimately to inform the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

WHO and its international networks of experts are monitoring changes to the virus so that if significant mutations are identified, countries and the public can be informed about any changes needed to react to the variant, and prevent its spread.

Globally, systems have been established and are being strengthened to detect “signals” of potential VOIs or VOCs and assess these based on the risk posed to global public health. 

SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern and Variants of Interest, updated 15 June 2021 by WHO

Variants of Concern

  • Alpha (United Kingdom, Sep-2020)
  • Beta (South Africa, May-2020)
  • Gamma (Brazil,  Nov-2020)
  • Delta (India, Oct-2020)

Variants of Interest

  • Epsilon (United States of America, Mar-2020)
  • Zeta (Brazil, Apr-2020)
  • Eta (Multiple countries, Dec-2020) 
  • Theta (Philippines, Jan-2021) 
  • Iota ( United States of America, Nov-2020)
  • Kappa (India, Oct-2020) 
  • Lambda (Peru, Aug-2020)

Read also: COVID-19 strain: India's 'Delta' of Coronavirus shows up in Ghana

Overview of Ghana situation

The Ghana Health Service says there is a gradual increase in Active cases over the past three weeks.

The average daily case count is about 80 cases with pockets of outbreaks reported in Ashanti, Ahafo and Greater Accra including Achimota School and workplace.

Vaccination

A total of 1,261,677 total doses have been administered as of June 30, 2021.

864,918 have had first dose of vaccination while 396, 759 are fully vaccinated.

The adherence to protocols is generally low.

Ghana Epidemiological situation

Dr Aboagye said as of July 1, 2021 total cases recorded were 96,402, 93,987 recoveries, 1,297,568 tests done and 1619.

COVID-19 in schools

A total of 351 schools have recorded cases of COVID-19. The cumulative total cases stands at 2217. 96.8 percent of cases have recovered.

There are currently 48 active cases among students from two regions (Greater Accra - 46, Eastern - 2).

Volta Region has recorded the highest number of cases (512). The North East Region is the only region with no cases recorded in schools.

Summary of Genomic Sequencing Results

Alpha - 429

Beta - 13

Gamma - 1

Delta - 34

VOI - 209

Others - 576

Total - 1212

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