COVID-19 in Christmas: Experts call for vigilance and stricter compliance with protocols

Some health experts and an event organiser have reiterated the need for vigilance and stricter compliance with the COVID-19 safety protocols amidst the Christmas celebrations.

They are; the Head of Health Promotion and Risk Communication on COVID-19 at the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Dacosta Aboagye; President of the Ghana Medical Association, Dr. Frank Serebour; a Pharmacist and Research Fellow at CDD Ghana, Dr. Kwame Sarpong Asiedu and Sadiq Abdulai Abu; the Chief Executive Officer of 3 Media Networks and organiser of the 3 Music Awards.

They made the call on JoyNews’ PM Express on Wednesday. The topic for discussion was ‘COVID-19, the ultimate Xmas spoiler: averting another surge.’

Speaking on the show, the health practitioners warned that if care is not taken, the number of COVID-19 cases in the country may increase astronomically during the Yuletide festivities.

According to the concerned experts, a lot of citizens have neglected the prescribed safety etiquettes, thus creating a fertile ground for the virus to spread.

Contributing to the discussions, Dr. Aboagye Dacosta intimated that his outfit has held a meeting with the Ghana Tourism Authority and other key players in the events industry, to discuss feasible measures to avert a spike in infections.

“We together with the Ghana Tourism Authority and the Ministry of Tourism met with event organsiers and obviously we were concerned about the rising cases, and we wanted to hear from them, so that we can also let them know our perspective, and if there’s any guidance, we can guide them on how they can organise the events in terms of alternatives and others.

So as part of our stakeholder engagement programmes, we met. The meeting went very well. We discussed a number of issues, ranging from the protocols, vaccination and how the Ghana Health Service team will support the enforcement of such activities”, Dr. Dacosta revealed.

He however maintained that despite the talks on how to prevent a surge amidst the celebrations, the Ghana Health Service still wants “events to be organised outdoors”. Explaining the rationale behind this proposition, Dr. Dacosta said indoor events lead to increased infections, thus the call by the Ghana Health Service for events to be held in open air spaces.

Adding to the discourse, Dr. Kwame Sarpong Asiedu said, the recent trend of infections should be treated with maximum seriousness. In this regard, he urged authorities to employ a ‘triple-lock approach to deal with the pandemic during the Christmas festivities.

Explaining the approach, Dr. Asiedu said “If I were in a decision making position, I would have used the triple lock. And what do I mean by that? I would have said for you to access any of the activities like Sadiq is organising, you should have an antigen test, a rapid test.

So why don’t we say you have an antigen test before you enter, [then] you’re fully vaccinated, and when you leave, you have an antigen test too. That for me is a triple lock. And that is mitigation. And that is containment. And so if I were in a decision making position, this is how I would go about it.”

For his part, Dr. Frank Serebour reiterated that there’s a rising number of cases in health facilities across the country. According to Dr. Serebour, the situation is occurring at an alarming rate. Thus, there’s the need for all citizens to heighten their adherence to the prescribed safety measures. Dr. Serebour disclosed that some doctors have even contracted the virus.

“Truth of the matter is that we are having a lot of cases in the hospitals at the moment. We have some of our doctors who are testing positive. A lot of the nurses are testing positive. Indeed there are some wards in some hospitals that are basically now being run by other people from other wards. Meaning that all the people in those wards have tested positive and they are supposed to go home”, Dr. Serebour disclosed.

He also added that, “As I speak to you, I am in a very small facility but I can tell you that, three of my doctors, we are only seven doctors, three of us have already tested positive; and it’s not like they’re asymptomatic. They’re symptomatic. And so I have to let them go home”.

Mr. Sadiq Abdulai Abu, who also contributed to discussion charged event organisers and participants to observe the safety protocols due to the worrying data on infections.

He indicated that stringent measures would be instituted at events that he would organise to regulate proceedings in order to curb the spread of the disease. “The health and safety of our patrons is of utmost importance to us,” he stressed.

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