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President Nana Akufo Addo (far left) addresses faith leaders at the Prayer Breakfast meeting held at Jubilee House on 19 March to solicit their support in government's efforts to combat Covid-19 in the country/Photo: Ghana Presidency

Coronavirus: Ghanaian Diaspora recommends measures to deal with pandemic

Representatives of Ghanaian communities – from Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, France, UK, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Canada, South Africa, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Japan and Ireland, took part at a meeting by conference call on Saturday (11 April) to discuss possible sustainable measures to adopt in dealing with the Coronavirus (Covid-19) within their respective communities. Below is the official report issued by the organisers, Ghanaian Community in Diaspora, after the virtual meeting:

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Reports from various diaspora countries

A member from each country was given the opportunity to present a situation report on their respective countries. The number of cases continue to increase, but the rate of infection appears stable for most countries.

  • The Ghanaian communities in US, UK, Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain have all recorded deaths related to COVID-19
  • Churches, associations and organizations are raising funds for needy compatriots in their communities, and some funds have been set up to help people in Ghana.
  • Some countries have started antibodies test to check for herd immunity.
  • Research on vaccines is ongoing and there is collaboration to find one so that countries can get back to normalcy.
  • The lockdown has been extended for almost all countries and Ghanaians in diaspora are following the precautionary measures.
  • France, US and UK have over 10 casualties.
  • Most communities are collaborating with the Ghana Embassies on fundraising.
  • Due to stigmatization, most people will not report COVID-19 cases until their demise, making it difficult for contact tracing.
  • The situation is UK is alarming as those with symptoms are not being tested and they are not happy with how the system is handling confirmed cases.

General Information on COVID-19 by Dr Felix Yamoah

  • The situation that started in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 is changing fast, and we should all take precautionary measures seriously to avoid burdening the healthcare systems.
  • Direct transmission occurs when the virus is passed from the infected person to the healthy person. The infected person will cough or sneeze and the droplets land in your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Indirect transmission occurs when one comes in contact with an infectious droplet in the air or surfaces. The virus might stay on surfaces and healthy people might touch the contaminated objects with their hands, and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth.
  • There are several symptoms, but Cough, Fever and Shortness of Breath are the main signs to watch for.
  • In addition to the basic hygiene we are all to observe, we should clean our mobile phones and tablets on regular basis and avoid sharing cutlery.
  • Stay home to avoid getting the coronavirus and observe the distance of 1.5 – 2 meters to other people when outside.
  • So far 80% of infections have been mild cases. 15% are moderate, and 5 % are critical meaning, not everyone who gets the coronavirus will die.
  • To avoid airborne infection, use facemask when going to public places.
  • The virus can affect the lungs, liver, heart and even the brain. However, most patients with critical cases develop respiratory problems.
  • Most doctors are using off-label drugs that are on trial to address the situation at hand
  • Applying the appropriate respiratory support is vital for patients.

Questions and Answers on COVID-19

Panellists: Dr Felix Yamoah, Dr Serwa Ayi, Dr Pearl Quartey and Dr Arthur Kennedy.

  1. What permit do I need after recovery from COVID-19 for my employer? Do I need to make public that I had COVID-19 or enough to show just the sick leave?

Answer: If you have recovered from COVID-19, a note from the Physician that you are fit for work is enough. Since COVID-19 is a public health issue, it might be relevant to inform employer to help with contact tracing.

2.What advice do you have for families where both parents are frontline workers? Should one quit?

Answer: Since you are in the same household, they should take precautionary measures seriously to limit exposure.

  1. What does the new research say about new strains and vaccines?

There are a couple of strains of the coronavirus circulating round the globe and scientists are rapidly sequencing the genomes of virus samples taken from sick people. This will help in the quest for vaccines.

  1. If a family member has COVID-19, how best can we take care of the person at home when they have mild symptoms?

Answer: Tylenol, paracetamol are basic drugs to give to the patients. They should isolate and minimise contact. We should empathize with them. Those who are suspected should quarantine and maintain social distance within family.

  1. Do we need to do much else outside the basic hygiene practice to stay safe during this outbreak?

Answer: The wearing of a mask could assist.

  1. Do the main symptoms associated with this novel coronavirus differ based on location, race or ethnicity?

Answer: Not much different but the symptoms vary from person to person.

  1. The number of coronavirus cases in US seems to have increased very quickly in a very short period. How concerned should we be that there are more cases in African countries where testing centres are limited?

Answer: Initially testing was not done in the US and social distancing was not practiced. If more testing and social distancing are done, we can fight the pandemic. There is a challenge in the household with several generations staying together.

  1. What do we currently know about the human-to-human transmission of this novel coronavirus? Is it air-borne?

Answer: Both airborne and droplets. One should take precautions and consider it as airborne.

  1. What makes this coronavirus strain significantly concerning?

Answer: This virus is different because people can have it and not show any symptoms. One person can pass it on to even 16 people or more.

  1. Precautions to take when you have a new baby during these times?

Answer: A pregnant mother is not at any higher risk to COVID-19 than they are to influenza. However, if the mother is positive, she should wear facemask when taking care of the baby. Studies have shown that babies can handle the virus. Infants are not dying from COVID-19 and the few ones who died were pre-mature babies.

  1. Why are the consultants, scientists and researchers not sharing vital information to assist with the treatment and recovery of patients?

Answer: There is sharing, the genetic material was shared with everyone and those who cared had diagnostics. Most journals are fast-tracking submissions related to the virus.

  1. Are Health Services just managing the symptoms with antibiotics and the respirator or ventilator?

Answer: There is protocol to follow. In addition, there is ongoing solidarity clinical trial to help find an effective treatment for COVID-19.

  1. Are there enough face masks and testing kits available for frontline health workers in Ghana?

Answer: Yes, for the frontline workers for now. Facemask was a problem initially but the president in connection with the diaspora office are helping. Embassies are also doing their best.

  1. Is asking patients to isolate themselves for 14 days without any further test enough?

Answer: No, there should be 2-3 tests afterwards. The test can be positive for 37 days even after a person appears to have recovered. There is a pathology report where the virus was found in the brain.

  1. Are Ghanaian Doctors collaborating with each other around the world?

Answer: Yes, there are collaborations and training of Intensive Care Unit staff remotely.

  1. Is it only patients with mild symptoms that have chances of recovery?

Answer: No, some critically ill patients can recover.

  1. Is there any link between 5G and COVID-19

Answer: It’s a conspiracy theory as there are places with COVID-19 cases where there is no 5G. Various labs have sequenced the virus and have been able to try them on animals.

  1. Is the partial lockdown in Ghana enough?

Answer: It is working, but there might be the need to extend.

  1. What is the R0 for Ghana?

Answer: R0 is about three for Ghana but it can be 10 to 15 times if things get out of hand.

  1. What accounts for the high mortality rates among African Americans

Answer: They are exposed more due to the nature of their work. There are many diabetic, asthmatic and those with High Blood Pressure in their community. They live in close quarters and the young ones bring it to the elderly.

  1. Should people be concerned with petting their pets? Is it human-animal transmission?

Answer: There are reports of a cat and a tiger testing positive hence there is human-animal transmission. We should therefore practice basic hygiene and take necessary precautions handling pets.

  1. What are the home remedies to use when one develops mild symptoms?

Answer: Vitamin C and most of the traditional medicine might help.

Diaspora COVID-19 Fund to support needy compatriots

  • Most of the Ghanaian communities are already raising funds in collaboration with the Ghanaian Embassies in their respective countries.
  • African CDC is raising fund and members are encouraged to support.
  • Churches, Ethnic groups, Associations are encouraged to help each other and stay connected.
  • Professional fundraisers are to be contacted to help to reach the targets.
  • Some of our members in the diaspora are facing racism in this pandemic, and there is the need to get out on social media to express our displeasure.

 

Signed

Kwaku Appiah (+49 17621845702)

Fred Addo (+33 670071310)

Benjamin Okrah (+49 17623101924)

(Members of Ghanaian Community in Diaspora)

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