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Ghana must be doing more coronavirus tests to justify falling active cases – Dr Sodzi-Tettey


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Renowned public health physician, Dr Sodzi Sodzi-Tettey, has said while Ghana’s coronavirus testing regime is not bad, the country can do a lot better.

He told GhanaWeb in an exclusive interview that Ghana’s current testing system is part of the reasons the country’s active coronavirus cases seem to be dropping.

“We have not been able to ramp up the tests as much as we needed to. Ghana was doing a lot of tests but what the Ghana Health Service put out is that by the 28th July 2020, we had done over 33,000 tests.

“So that if you count from April up until this time, and you look at the number of months, it means we are averaging maybe 8,000 or so tests per month. In some other places, at the peak of it people were averaging somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 [tests] so I wouldn’t say at this stage that our test rate is that high,” he said.

Dr Sodzi-Tettey was sharing his thoughts with GhanaWeb on what could be accounting for Ghana’s falling coronavirus cases.

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has touted the country’s achievements in the fight against the global pandemic and has said the number of active COVID-19 cases in Ghana was declining.

Director-General of GHS, Dr Patrick Aboagye, urged Ghanaians at a press briefing on Sunday, July 19, 2020, in Accra, to focus on the declining active cases rather than the cumulative positive case count in assessing how well the country was doing in managing the pandemic in the country.

“We normally don’t focus on the cumulative positive count because the majority of them have already recovered. But the more important indicator is the active cases. In Ghana today, the active case trend is declining and this is very good news. Our target is to keep it declining,” he said at the press conference.

Available figures as of Monday, October 19, 2020, show that active coronavirus case count currently stands at 398, putting the country’s recovery rate at 98.5%.

Answering a question by GhanaWeb on the declining cases, Dr Sodzi-Tettey said while the efforts by the GHS and allied agencies in the fight against the virus are commendable, several factors could be accounting for the falling case counts in the active cases.

He said the reduced testing across the country could also be giving the government a false sense of progress and declining cases when the situation could be markedly different.

“Sometimes this [reduced testing regime] may also give you a certain sense that your numbers are low, when in reality you may not be testing as rigorously as you should have. But to the extent that even when people test positive we are getting good outcomes I will be happy with that,” he told GhanaWeb.

He also said the redefinition of the conditions under which one can be discharged could also be accounting for the declining figures in the active case count.

“In the beginning…you had to be asymptomatic and you had to get two negative tests within the two weeks before you will be discharged and because this ended up in a situation where you had a clutter within the hospital so people are relatively well, but because they are waiting for the second negative test, they are not discharged and they are not declared as recovered. And also because of the backlog in even conducting these tests rapidly, we could not have that much of a rapid decline,” he said.

He said Ghana’s adoption of the definition by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has meant that when one is asymptomatic, they will be allowed to go home and be managed as such.

“If you are symptomatic 14 days after the onset of the symptoms and three days after you are no longer showing symptoms you will be allowed to go home. So I think that this is less stringent than the first one. So, more people are going home and there that is where people are being labelled as having recovered and so it makes the numbers drop a bit more rapidly,” he explained.

Source: www.ghanaweb.com


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