Thank you, Mr Speaker, for permitting me to make this very important Statement on Coronavirus infection of humans in China and its potential implications for Ghana.
Mr Speaker, Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause respiratory illness such as the common cold and can affect the nose, throat and rarely,
it can descend down and cause bronchitis and pneumonia. In some instances, diarrhoea stools have been recorded.
Mr Speaker, Coronaviruses are mostly Zoonotic that affect other animals and not man.
However, in 2002, in Southern China, an outbreak of Coronavirus infection of humans described as Severe Acute Respiratory syndrome (SARS) claimed approximately the life of one out of every 10 patients infected. It is estimated that 774 people lost their lives out of the over 8,000 cases recorded worldwide.
Also in 2012, in Saudi Arabia, there was an outbreak of a Coronavirus infection documented as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) which claimed the lives of 298 people.
Mr Speaker, the current outbreak of Coronavirus infection has been named as 2019-nCOV. It is thought to have infected man from snakes in the Wuhan Province of China.
Mr Speaker, since the first case was recorded on the 31st December, 2019, over 4,500 cases have now been registered with 106 deaths. It has also spread to 22 other provinces in China and currently, cases have been registered in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the United States of America (USA), France and Australia.
Currently in Africa, we have suspected cases in la Cote d'ivoire and Ethiopia. The mode of transmission are the following:
(1) Breathing of the respiratory droplets from an infected person's sneezing or coughing.
(2) Saliva or Kissing.
(3) Contact with an infected object such as blanket, mattress, clothing which are later introduced through the nose, eyes or mouth.
(4) Contaminated faecal matter can also be the source of infection.
The diagnosis can be confirmed at any standard laboratory and currently, there is no specific medications or vaccines for it. However, patients are treated symptomatically and supportively. They are expected to take in sufficient fluid and if the need be, they are hospitalised for intensive medical care.
Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has issued a statement calling on all Ghanaians to prevent the 2019- nCOV from entering the country and putting all regional and district health care systems on alert. There is also surveillance at all entry points into the country. At the airports, passengers coming from China would undergo special screening processes and Ghanaian traders travelling to China
have been asked to postpone their trips if possible. While these measures are in the right direction, they are inadequate and insufficient.
Mr Speaker, the measures being taken by China and their challenges require urgently that the Government of Ghana evaluate our emergency preparedness to contain this infection should it hit our shore. China is building a 1,000 bed capacity make- shift hospital to cater for patients while we have a lot of uncompleted hospital projects on which work is not progressing as expected.
Mr Speaker, our socio-economic status, cultural norms and religious practices such as our suburban crowded settlements, the way we perform our funerals and worship in our churches, mosques and other religious gatherings suggest that the Ministry of Health intensifies its educational process. Resources from the Contingency Fund should be released to local radio stations, television stations, newspapers and other mass communication media to carry out intensive public education.
Mr Speaker, the earlier we start with the education, the better it is for all of us. Even in China, some of the patients do not understand basic concepts such as isolation, quarantine