he Ghana Health Service (GHS) says Ghana has not yet recorded community transmission of the Omicron variant of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).
According to the Director-General of GHS, Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, all the 34 cases recorded so far were detected at the airport and have been isolated.
“Nobody has Omicron virus in Ghana. The ones we picked were at the airport coming into the country. For the tests we’ve been doing for immigrants, we did 116 tests with Noguchi, and out of them, we got about 34 cases mainly from Nigeria and South Africa, and one from Portugal. We have done some checks at the various labs and have not picked any cases in the country yet,” he said in an interview on Face to Face on Citi TV.
“Everyone of those who tested positive at the airport was detained in isolation centres,” he added.
Touching on the vaccination drive of the country, the Director-General of GHS indicated that about 6 million Ghanaians have been vaccinated so far.
“We have so far received about 12 million doses of COVOD-19 vaccines, and between now and the end of December we are looking at receiving about 7 million more doses. The doses will be a mix of those we will buy and donations.”
“We keep receiving donations because we are trusted to efficiently distribute the vaccines and not put them to waste. We had about 1.5 million doses from the Germans which was supposed to expire within a month, but we were able to use them before they did,” he added.
Storage capacity for vaccines
Dr. Kuma-Aboagye also assured that the country is well-equipped to store and distribute the vaccines across the country.
“We have the capacity for distributing the virus. We have cold chain facilities across the country. Where we do not have them yet are the six new regions. We also have ultra-cold facilities, which are quite old because of Pfizer vaccines.”
“We currently have ultra-cold facilities in every region. Not every country in Africa can take Pfizer, but we have the capacity.”
Reluctance of some Ghanaians to get vaccinated
Dr. Kuma-Aboagye lamented that despite tireless efforts by the government to achieve herd immunity, some Ghanaians, for reasons bordering on fear, are unwilling to get vaccinated.
“We have been experiencing some level of hesitancy. We have realised that the urgency with which people were rushing for the vaccines when they first came in has diminished, but that’s to be expected. The challenge is that we are in a season where we aren’t recording a lot of cases, and so people are relaxed.”
He said the government might be forced to apply some form of ‘pressure’ to get Ghanaians vaccinated, especially for public sector workers.
“Of course it is not going to be done without people complaining, but what has to be done should be done. It has become very important to look at the situation we find ourselves in. When you go to the club, for example, the thing you have to do is to show your vaccination card. And mind you, these cards are verifiable. We have a system that can cross-check the vaccination card. And this is done globally. They ask for the vaccination card even more than the passport. I had to show my card before I could go to a restaurant to eat in one country. Our plan is to follow suit for immigrants.”
“The rollout plan will be released after the vaccination month, which is December. So we will see this more in January. We will share the details when we get there.”
He encouraged all Ghanaians to get vaccinated to protect not only themselves but those around them.
He allayed the fears and misconceptions some Ghanaians have about the vaccines, arguing that no mass casualties have been recorded in any part of the world since the vaccine roll-out.
“So far, about 3.3 billion people all over the world have vaccinated. Over 7 billion doses have been given to people, and we have not yet recorded any mass deaths or casualties. Even in Ghana, nearly 6 million people have been vaccinated, and we have not heard of any major adverse effects. And so to protect yourself and everyone else, it is right to get vaccinated.”
“Besides, about 98% of the people who get infected with COVID-19 we’re unvaccinated. Even the ICUs are filled with many unvaccinated people. For instance, of the deaths recorded in Ga East during the third wave, only two of them were unvaccinated. And so it is in everybody’s interest that we all get vaccinated.”
On whether the borders should be opened in the first quarter of 2022, the GHS Director said though the closure has had adverse impact on the economies of border towns, it will be advisable we “study the omicron virus a bit, check with our neighbours, and see how they are coping.”
“The health and economic balance need to be taken into consideration before such decisions are made,” he added.