Workers in the Kumasi and its environs, have been stricken by the fear of contracting the deadly Coronavirus, following a death of one of their colleagues, Dr. Harry Owusu Boateng, who until his death last week, was the Medical Superintendent at the Kwadaso SDA Hospital in Kumasi.
Dr. Owusu Boateng, described as hardworking, friendly and affable by all who knew him, died at home in the early hours of Saturday, June 13, 2020.
The Pediatrician, had been involved in the treatment of a COVID-19 patient a couple of days earlier, and after reassessment, determined that he had been exposed to COVID-19.
He was, therefore in self-isolation at home. Reliable Sources suggest that he started having symptoms about three days prior to his passing.
Dr. Harry Boateng studied medicine at the KNUST medical school. After his Housemanship, he pursued a specialist training in child health. After his specialization, he worked at the Agogo Presbyterian Hospital for a couple of years and was subsequently appointed as the Medical Superintendent at the SDA Hospital in Kumasi.
His passing has come as a shock to many doctors and nurses who knew him as a very friendly and hardworking professional. His death brings into focus how vulnerable health workers are in Ghana.
The apprehension among health workers emanates from the lack of adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs). There are reports of over 160 nurses and about 70 Doctors having been infected by the SARS COV2 virus, the cause of COVID-19.
Even more worrying, to healthcare professionals is the fact that Ghana has started reporting an exponential rise in cases and yet this is the time that President Akufo-Addo is relaxing restrictions.
The national effort towards the COVID-19 battle seems to be diminishing, evidenced by news of reduced contact tracing and testing, as contact tracers and field workers in Ashanti region declared a strike.
There has also been an unexplained stop to the biweekly press conference. The Electoral commission is preparing to organise fresh mass registration of voters against advice from all voices of reason in the country.
On the same day that Dr. Harry Boateng died, the Health Minister and his family were reported to have contracted the virus and on admission at the UGMC.
The news has since gone viral with many on social media questioning why the Minister is at UGMC, since his boss, President Akufo-Addo, believes the Hospital and many other infrastructure projects only exist in the NDC's Greenbook.
In a bizarre twist, the Minister, Kwaku Agyemang Manu, who is also the MP for Dormaa central, is reported to have told Afia Pokuaa of Peace FM that he is only resting at the UGMC and taking his regular Diabetes medications and that he does not have COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the MCE for the Secondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly, Mr K K Sam, has died from alleged complications of COVID-19, at the UGMC.
Intriguingly, doctors at the Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital, had informed the family of the Late Anthony K.K. Sam, former Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Chief Executive, that he died of pneumonia.
"Before our father was moved from the Effia Nkwanta Hospital on Sunday to Accra, the doctors told us he had pneumonia," Mr Kweku Sagoe, Son of the former MCE, told the Ghana News Agency last Saturday.
Mr Sagoe was reacting to speculations that his father might have died from COVID-19, after his driver was alleged to have contracted the disease without any proper isolation.
"Our father had already tested negative for COVID-19 on two occasions and the third was done when he was taken to Accra on Sunday. We are yet to be given the results of that test".
The Late Anthony K.K. Sam, born on October 17, 1957, died on Friday, June 12, at the University of Ghana Medical Centre.
Meanwhile, some health workers are lamenting about how they are being treated.
One of them told The Herald, “its like once you get it, you are virtually on your own, no direct effort to even offer u psychological support. And the increasing cases also means the testing capacity is getting less, so period of waiting for results also increasing. Hence exposed staff, are having to stay longer than usual to know their test results”.
Currently the regular ICU for non-Covid cases is understaffed because they lost an injured patient, who had become positive while on admission there. A lot of the staff have since had to be self-quarantined for the mandatory 2 weeks.
Now virtually every department has infected staff who are out on treatment
We will soon get to the point where only those with symptoms will get tested in Ghana. It is getting that serious
There is a patient I know who tested positive a week ago, the family is yet to be traced, in fact, it was Harriet who got me someone to contact for them today, and they have been promised midweek testing, this week”.