Schools Breeding More Coronavirus Cases -Minority Calls for dissolution of Govt’s advisory team

Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye

A total of 142 COVID-19 positive cases,, have been recorded in some junior and senior high schools in four regions, meaning testing in the 12 other regions could increase the current active case count from 6,707 with 472 deaths.

The number comes as the Minority in Parliament is demanding the dissolution of the government's technical advisory team on COVID-19, because according to the group, the recent upsurge in infections is a clear indication that the team has failed to deliver on its mandate.

Addressing the press, Member of Parliament (MP) for Juaboso, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, called for the recomposition of the team in a non-partisan and competent manner.

Fifty-six (56) of the 142 positive cases were confirmed in 23 schools in the Greater Accra Region.

Eighty-two (82) positive cases, comprising 73 students and nine staff, were recorded in the Eastern Region, three cases in the Upper West Region and a single case in a school in the Western Region.

They have been isolated and receiving treatment at the various treatment centres.

No death has, so far, been recorded from the school infections.

Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), announced this at a COVID-19 Media Updates in Accra on Tuesday.

There have been 82 confirmed positive cases in the Eastern Region, comprising 73 students and nine staff after 553 suspected samples, were tested.

He said, for instance, 17 suspected cases were reported in Presbyterian Boys Senior High School (PRESEC.), Legon, in LA NKwatanang District, but only four were confirmed positive.

Twenty-four (24) suspected cases were reported in West Africa Senior High School ((WASS) but 13 students tested positive.

Three suspected cases were reported in Wesley Grammar School, but only one student tested positive.

The Odorkor Cluster of Schools reported 15 suspected cases, but five students tested positive.

Achimota Senior High School reported six suspected cases and all the six tested positive. There were eight suspected cases in Achimota Basic School and all eight cases were positive.

Six students tested positive in New Page Preparatory School, two confirmed positive cases in Accra Technical Institute after reporting 11 suspected cases, Dzowolu JHS reported 11 suspected cases but only one positive.

Roman Ridge School also recorded 11 suspected cases, but one was positive, while three positive cases were confirmed in the Saint Elizabeth Schools after 10 suspected cases were reported in the school.

Students and pupils returned to school in January this year, after almost 10 months at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total 9.2 million students were affected, while 500,000 teachers and non-teaching staff, were also affected.

Mr Mintah Akandoh, called for the recomposition of the team in a non-partisan and competent manner.

"The government should as a matter of urgency dissolve the technical advisory team from 2020 and recompose a technical team that is multidisciplinary, non-partisan and competent enough to direct on the management of COVID-19 in the country."

"Government should release funds to the district and regional teams to enhance contact tracing, as a matter of urgency. Schools should be adequately resourced to enhance the management of COVID-19," he added.

Mr Akandoh on behalf of the Minority demanded that, "the government should release enough funds to the Regional and District Health Teams to enhance contact tracing and case testing and pay all the monies promised Health workers".

"As a matter of urgency expand more management facilities and build capacity to handle the many severe cases that are likely to be confirmed, adding "Schools should be adequately resourced and supported to make the environment safe from COVID-19".

He asked that, "the media should be considered by the Government and given enough financial and other resources to enable them to carry out public education on COVID-19".

Two teacher unions have described calls for the closure of schools as impulsive.

As of February 8, over 90 students in some schools in five regions, had been infected with COVID-19.

Following the outbreak, the Ashanti Regional branch of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) called for the closure of schools, but the National Association of Graduate Teachers and the Ghana National Association of Teachers, have disagreed.

Meanwhile, the General Secretary of Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), Thomas Musah, intimated that it was too soon for such a call.

Schools in the country resumed teaching and learning from January 18 after several months of being closed in 2020 to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Mr Musah, said the infections recorded so far were isolated cases as he cited the circumstances at the Akosombo International School where scores have been infected.

"For one of the schools where we have recorded such high cases, the best way to go is to isolate that particular school."

"Let us be careful with the way we do generalisations when something happens in a particular or an isolated area."

The President the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT),, Angel Carbonu, further indicated that the decision on the closure of schools, should be up to the Ghana Education Service (GES).

He noted that any assessment of the infection situation by the Ghana Medical Association "should be quickly sent to the Ghana Education Service management and give the information that they have on the ground to the management of the Ghana Education Service to enable it to make an informed decision."