CORONAVIRUS; Okudzeto Ablakwa Calls For Mass Testing

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The Member of Parliament for North Tongu constituency, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has called for free COVID-19 mass testing for all Ghanaians.

He has also called on the government to adopt an aggressive approach towards the virus.

“Time to fight COVID-19 like we have never done. It should be possible to institute a regime of free mass testing including drastically reducing the $150 airport fee,” he said in a tweet yesterday.

He added “We should be more aggressive & ingenious in our vaccine delivery timelines. And let us all do what we must.”

The lawmaker’s advice comes just few days after President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said in his nationwide address on the Covid-19 last Sunday that the government had intensified its strategy of enhanced 3Ts, i.e. tracing, testing and treating, to deal with the rising cases of the coronavirus in the country.

The president believes the enhanced 3Ts will enable the authorities identify infected persons, isolate them, and treat them adding that “a considerable number of contact tracers are being mobilised to follow up on contacts of all who test positive”.

However, Mr. Ablakwa is of the opinion that the best approach is for a free COVID-19 mass (nationwide) testing to be done to ascertain the actual number of Ghanaians infected by the deadly virus especially as new strains or variants of the virus have already been reported in the country and are beginning to wreak havoc.

Meanwhile, a senior research consultant at the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) at the University of Ghana, Dr. Peter Kojo Quashie has disclosed that the new variants of COVID-19 identified in the country were brought in from the United Kingdom and South Africa.

According to Dr. Quashie, apart from the ones from the U.K and South Africa, others yet to be confirmed bear resemblance to that of a Brazilian variant.

“A number of them are the UK variants and then we have at least one South African variant. And there are some variants that look like that of the Brazilian but are not quite clear yet so I wouldn’t put them as part of the Brazil variant, but they have some of the mutations.

“This is something that we did as part of the special facilities across the country which have been tasked to sequence samples arriving. So we are sequencing the airport samples as well as the more recent local samples. So far we haven’t detected them in our local samples but from the airport, these were some of the variants detected,” Dr. Peter Kojo Quashie stated in an interview with Accra based Starr News.

He added that these new variants, however, are not ‘more deadly’ but spread faster thereby calling for strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols.

“So far what the evidence seems to suggest is that they spread faster. They are highly transmissible and they replicate faster. That does not mean they are more deadly. When you have something that spreads faster, it’s going to affect a larger chunk of your population very quickly.

“So it just means that we have to be even more careful about how we follow our protocols…..when you have a more infectious virus that means that if in the past you needed a hundred viral particles for you to be infected, in this case, you need just 10 to be infected. So it spreads faster and by virtue of that you’ll see more sick people faster” Dr. Peter Kojo Quashie explained.

President Akufo-Addo in his address established that the new strains of the virus have been discovered in the country and that the government was putting in efforts to determine the presence and extent of the spread in the country.

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