The Country Representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Francis Kasolo, has made a passionate appeal to members of the public to avail themselves to be vaccinated.
He also urged the public to continue to adhere to the safety protocols which were effective against the new COVID-19 variant, the Omicron.
His appeal comes on the back of increasing anxiety over the detection of the Omicron variant among travellers at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) on November 21, this year.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, Dr Kasolo reiterated the fact that mutation was a characteristic of viruses, such as the COVID-19, and was facilitated by transmissions.
He said the basic way to slow the virus from mutating was ensuring that majority of the population was vaccinated, while the public adhered strictly to the safety protocols to break the cycle of transmission.
“The message today is that as the COVID-19 continues to circulate, the more opportunities it has to change form or mutate. The only way to slow down this virus from mutating is by having as many people as possible vaccinated,” he said.
“Researchers across the world are working to understand more about the mutations and what they potentially mean in terms of how transmissible or virulent this variant is and how they impact diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. It will take a few weeks for us to understand what impact this variant has,” Dr Kasolo added.
He said preliminary evidence suggested that there might be an increased risk of reinfection with the new variant, as compared to other variants of concern.
Dr Kasolo added that a vaccinated person was likely to develop a less severe form of the disease and might not require hospital care, consequently helping to reduce patient load on the health system.
He said the festive season was very critical in the national fight against the virus, as towns and cities were going to get crowded in preparation for Christmas, coupled with a lot of religious and social gatherings.
“To avoid the fourth wave in the country, I would like to, on behalf of the WHO, join the government in calling upon all those above 15 to get vaccinated. The vaccines are free of charge, so please protect yourself and those around you,” he said.
He called on the media to say ‘no’ to misinformation to help boost the fight against the pandemic.
The Ghana Health Service (GHS) announced that the new Omicron variant had been detected in the country through its surveillance system at the KIA.
It said Omicron was picked up at the KIA among travellers from Nigeria and South Africa on November 21, this year, but it did not disclose the number of cases.
It said there had been no community spread but surveillance had since been triggered.
To boost the national journey to reach herd immunity by vaccinating at least 20 million of the population and subsequently the entire population, the government has declared this month vaccination month.
The vaccination month campaign is also to help make vaccines available and closer to the public.
The GHS hopes to use the vaccination month as a platform to increase public awareness of the importance of vaccines.
It says it has stocked more than enough vaccines to get at least close to 20 million of the population vaccinated by the close of the year.