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Enhanced COVID-19 safety protocols for church workers

BY: Doreen Andoh
• Dr Partrick Kuma-Aboagye, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, addressing the media at the press conference in Accra. Picture: GABRIEL AHIABOR

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has urged church workers, such as pastors, choristers and members of protocol, to always be in their face masks when engaged in church activities.

This follows the outcome of a survey to determine the level of adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols in churches, which showed that the percentage of people wearing face masks among church workers, such as pastors, choristers and ushers, had reduced, while that of the general congregation had gone up.

At the Minister’s Press Briefing on the National COVID-19 situation in Accra yesterday, the Director-General of the GHS, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, said it was critical for church workers who carried out activities involving singing and talking to always be in their face masks because COVID-19 was transmitted through droplets.

“The emission of droplets infected with COVID-19 is high during preaching, singing and other talking activities. This is why we recommend highly that all these groups of church workers adhere strictly to the protocols,” he added.

Survey

According to the survey, the proportion of congregants wearing face masks correctly was 92 per cent, compared to 86 per cent among ushers, protocol and security.

And among pastors, priests and elders, it was 83 per cent, while among choristers and singers, it was 63 per cent.

“The proportion of the correct way of wearing of face masks was highest in large churches with membership of 501-999 (99 per cent); very large churches with membership of more than 1,000 (92 per cent); medium-size churches with membership of 101-500 (88 per cent),  and small-size churches with membership of less than or up to 100 (74 per cent),” the director-general added.

Dr Kuma-Aboagye further said the number of people wearing face masks correctly among the general population had increased from 42 to 47 per cent, while those not wearing face masks at all had decreased from 36 to 29 per cent.

According to him, face mask wearing among adults and children was generally better in the morning (52 per cent) than in the afternoon (41 per cent).

National update

The country’s active COVID-19 case count, which was less than 1,000 before January 1, this year, had risen to 6,707 after 795 new cases were recorded as of February 9, 2021.

Dr Kuma-Aboagye said the death toll had also risen from 464 to 472.

Since recording its first cases in March 2020, the country has confirmed 72,328 cases, with 65,149 recoveries.

Out of the total confirmed cases, 26,785 were recorded by General Surveillance; 44,390 cases from Enhanced Contact Tracing, while 1,153 were recorded among international travellers disembarking at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) since it was reopened on September 1, 2020, he said.

In all, 810,040 tests for the virus have been conducted in the country.

Those with severe conditions are 114, with 34 in critical condition.

The cases are being managed at treatment sites and isolation centres across the country, while some are being cared for at home.

According to Dr Kuma-Aboagye, the daily case incidence had been rising since the end of December last year.

The figures had, however, remained stable since last week, he added.

He said the Greater Accra Region remained the hotspot of the virus, accounting for more than 50 per cent (3,431) of active cases and with a cumulative case count of 42,312.

The Ashanti Region has 1,149 active cases, with a case count of 13,092, followed by the Western Region with 548 active cases and a cumulative case count of 4,043.

The rest are: Eastern, 242 active cases, cumulative, 3,109; Central, 258 active cases, total of 2,458; Volta, 246 active cases, total 1,131; Bono East, 75 active cases, total 882, and Northern, 151 active cases, cumulative of 802.

Dr Kuma-Aboagye said so far, there had not been any reported case of COVID-19-related deaths in schools, even though some cases had been recorded in some schools within the Greater Accra, Eastern, Central and Upper West regions.

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