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We’ll ensure health, safety of students — GHS

BY: Doreen Andoh
• Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, Director-General, Ghana Health Service, addressing the press
• Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, Director-General, Ghana Health Service, addressing the press

The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, has said measures are being put in place to ensure the health and safety of students and pupils as they prepare to go back to school this month.

The measures include the mapping of schools to health facilities, the provision of face masks for students, pupils, teaching and non-teaching staff and the institutionalisation of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities in all schools.

In addition, all schools are to be disinfected before reopening later this month. The exercise is in collaboration with the Ministry of Education (MoE).

Dr Kuma-Aboagye was speaking at the Minister’s press briefing series in Accra yesterday.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo last Sunday evening announced the reopening of schools after 10 months of closure, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Since Ghana recorded its first two cases of COVID-19 on March 2, 2020, a number of measures were instituted to limit its spread, including the temporary closure of schools.

Assessment of infirmaries

Dr Kuma-Aboagye said some months ago, officials of the health and educational sectors conducted a nationwide assessment to establish the state of infirmaries and clinics in educational facilities.

It was realised that some schools did not have infirmaries and those schools were mapped to health facilities, while those that had them were upgraded to enable staff of those facilities to respond adequately to basic COVID-19 health needs of pupils, students, teaching and non-teaching staff to keep them safe ahead of referrals.

He said the medical screening of senior high schools (SHSs) would be institutionalised and carried out annually.

Dr Kuma-Aboagye further said pre-school kids and pupils would be under strict monitoring and supported through existing school health platforms.

He said teaching and non-teaching staff were also receiving capacity building on child-friendly and fun-filled COVID-19 safety protocols to facilitate risk communication.

National update

According to Dr Kuma-Aboagye, the country’s COVID-19 active cases stood at 879, with a daily average of 75 cases.

He said as of January 1, 2021, Ghana had recorded 55,220 cases, with a positivity rate of about 8.2 per cent.

So far, he said, 54,005 had recovered, while 336 deaths had been recorded.

From September 1, 2020, when the Kotoka International Airport was opened, up to January 3, this year, 741 imported positive cases had been recorded at the airport, out of which 191 were active.

For his part, the Minister of Education, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, said President Akufo-Addo had directed the fumigation of all schools ahead of the reopening.

“We hope that by partnering Zoomlion and other sanitation companies, we can get the work done quickly, neatly and effectively,” he said.