Mass testing for COVID-19 needed; students and teachers still at risk – NDC

The National Democratic Congress’s COVID-19 Technical Team has cautioned against a false sense of security following the easing of public gathering restrictions.

The National Democratic Congress’s COVID-19 Technical Team has cautioned against a false sense of security following the easing of restrictions on public gathering.

As schools prepare to open for certain categories of students in the coming days, the NDC feels the recent trends in the spread of the virus “do not suggest that students, teaching and non- teaching staff can avoid a significant risk of exposure to the virus as the epidemic is not under control”.

It warned that “the daily updates from GHS over the last four weeks tell a story of an expanding epidemic and rising risks in our communities”.

Ghana’s COVID-19 cases stand at 10,358 with 48 deaths and 3,824 recoveries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has included Ghana among the top ten African countries believed to be driving the spread of COVID-19 on the continent.

May 2020 brought an average of over 200 new cases a day in Ghana, which the NDC says should prompt the government to “give greater consideration to the worrying trends in community spread”.

The party further suggested that all students, teaching and non-teaching staff be tested “to preempt any potential spread on secondary school and university campuses”.

This is in line with calls from stakeholders such as the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS), which has proposed mass coronavirus testing of students, teaching and non-teaching staff of senior high schools (SHSs) before they reopen.

Among other suggestions, the NDC has also called for better health-care resourcing of schools, provision of isolation centres on school campuses and ensuring social distancing protocols in boarding houses and classrooms.

No mass testing by government

The government has already said that it does not consider mass testing to be a prudent intervention.

The Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, said although the government has not given up on the option of mass testing, it would not be an absolute solution to the spread of the virus.

“Testing is not a panacea. What we have therefore sought to do is to test at-risk populations because there is a clear mapping of where the virus is [as well as] the persons who are at risk, and therefore you are able to concentrate your resources,” he explained.

“It may not be prudent to test 9.4 million kids that are going to school once. If you are going to test them, maybe you should test everybody every morning.

“Can you feasibly do that? You can’t do that.”

Delali Adogla-Bessa
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