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Failure by COVID-19 testing labs to provide information worrying

BY: Doreen Andoh
Dr Patrick Kumah-Aboagye
Dr Patrick Kumah-Aboagye

The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Patrick Kumah-Aboagye, has said the inability of private coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing laboratories to provide information for public health facilities has become a fault line in the national COVID-19 response effort.

He said the failure by the private centres to provide such information for the National Response Team compromised contact tracing, a critical aspect of the national COVID-19 response.

He, therefore, cautioned employers, institutions and individuals to desist from managing suspected and confirmed cases of the disease in their facilities without informing the public health system.

At a national briefing on the COVID-19 in Accra last Monday, Dr Kumah-Aboagye said it was okay for people to use private testing facilities, but said because of contact tracing, efforts should be made by the laboratories or individuals to provide the public health system with data.

According to him, the broad strategy used in responding to the COVID-19 — tracing, testing and treatment — had not changed, but that the improper use of private testing facilities would have a ripple effect on the strides already made.

He said the GHS would continue to engage with private COVID-19 testing service providers to enhance collaboration for data collection.

Additionally, surveillance officers would be stationed in all private laboratories to collect firsthand information for the public health system to enhance contact tracing, he said.

“We are also improving capacity on contact tracing by setting up three sample collection centres to improve the collection of data on walk-in testing,” Dr Kumah-Aboagye said.

Th centres would be located at the Ga East Municipal Hospital, the Greater Accra Regional Hospital and the Tema General Hospital, he said.

Notice

The acting Director of Public Health at the GHS, Dr Franklin Asiedu-Bekoe, said it had come to the notice of the GHS that institutions were privately testing employees suspected of having the disease and giving attention to only confirmed cases, without considering others or contacts who might have been exposed to the virus.

He also said if a worker showed symptoms and his company arranged for a test to be done and it turned out positive, the GHS should be in the know.

“What is happening is that there are quite a number of workplaces in Accra recording infections. They include workplaces in Ablekuma North, Ablekuma South, La Dadekotopon, Korle Klottey and Ningo Prampram. These areas have recorded almost 100 confirmed cases,” he added.

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