Ghana has mounted health surveillance to check protect people in the country from contracting a new virus outbreak that has killed nine people in China.
Health authorities say travellers coming into Ghana from China will be subjected to “enhanced screening” and issued with health questionnaire to be filled as part of measures put in place to protect the Ghanaian public.
Health facilities across the country have also been alerted to prepare and manage cases in case of an outbreak.
The diseases, said to be a novel coronavirus, and characterised by fever, cough and difficulties in breathing, has so far affected 440 people in China. The is believed to be a new strain of coronavirus that has not previously been identified in humans.
It has spread from Wuhan, where it was first detected, to several Chinese provinces, as well as the US, Thailand and South Korea, the BBC reported Wednesday.
Chinese authorities suspect the virus originated from a seafood market that “conducted illegal transactions of wild animals”.
In Ghana, the Ministry of Health in a statement said on the back of a WHO warning, it has stepped up surveillance, especially at the country’s points of entry.
It said all public health alert messages on the outbreak and guidance information have been sent to the 16 regions, while surveillance is enhance at the country’s main airport, Kotoka International Airport.
It has assured the public that there is adequate in-country capacity to diagnose the 2019-nCoV through laboratory testing of the appropriate samples by the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research.
“We hereby as the general public and all stakeholders to support in efforts at preventing 2019-nCoV in Ghana,” the statement by the Health Ministry appealed.
Health authorities have advised the public to adhere to the following measures as part of prevention:
- Regular washing of hands with soap and water
- Hand rubbing with alcohol is also advised where available
- Keep a distance of at least one step (one meter) from a person showing signs of fever, cough and difficulty in breathing
- If contact with a sick person or with potentially infected surfaces or objects occurs, those involved must not touch their eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands;
- It is advisable to be physically active, drink plenty of fluids, eat well, reduce stress and have enough sleep
- People should seek treatment immediately if infection is suspected, if symptoms occur or when advised by a health worker.
Where else have cases been reported?
There have been a handful of global cases: three cases in Thailand, one in Korea, one in Japan, one in Taiwan and one in the US.
On Wednesday, the city of Macau also reported its first confirmed case of the virus. The patient is said to be a businesswoman who had arrived from Wuhan over the weekend.
Authorities in many places, including Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan have stepped up screening of air passengers from Wuhan. US authorities last week announced similar measures at airports in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.
In Australia, a man who had travelled to Wuhan has been placed in isolation and is undergoing tests. China is the largest source of tourists to Australia, with more than one million people visiting last year.