Minority Press Statement On The Spread Of Covid-19 Casaes Among Students By Kwabena Mintah Akandoh: Mp For Juaboso (Ranking Member For Parliamentary Select Committee On Health).
The minority in parliament is once again deeply worried and concerned as the Covid-19 cases escalate so quickly in Ghana especially, on school campuses.
Unfortunately, case count has risen above 22,000 and mortality is about 129 which is very scary. However, government is still adamant on suggestions by many experts and institutions including Ghana Medical Assocition(GMA), CSOs, Teacher Unions against the closure of schools and the halt on conduction of New Voters Registration Exercise. This is a very clear indication that government has lost the fight against Covid-19.
Whereas other countries like Kenya and Nigeria have suspended the re-opening of schools and final year Exams (WASSCE) until 2021, the Akuffo Addo led administration have rather allowed final year students to return to school and prepare for their exams without ensuring adequate safety protocol measures on the various campuses. This is an example of government’s disregard for the welfare of students and the public at large. It is amazing how suddenly, the government adores BECE and WASSCE at the expense of human lives. Meanwhile, if there are no healthy living beings, there will definitely be no exams or certificates.
Considering a country like Nigeria with much more dense population than Ghana and the number of Covid cases identified so far, then we can comparatively say that the case count in Ghana is much more overwhelming than Nigeria, yet, we are keeping our students on campuses. We want to know if government is by this means insinuating that, some lives /Ghanaians are more valuable than others by choosing to shutdown institutions like Ministry of finance, COCOBOD, BOST, and the Supreme Court. Why are the students still in school and on campuses?
By this actions, we can say for sure that government has a political agenda because despite many concerns by parents and GNATs about the vulnerability of students to the virus, the NPP led government’s position is still unwavering. Rather, they intend to create polling stations on the campuses and are busing some of the students to some constituencies, example is Asawase to register.
Besides, the minority members on the health committee in parliament suggested to government to conduct mass testing for all final year students to be sure that no student comes to school being infected with the virus but were ignored. We have been vindicated by the fact that some students in Accra Girls Senior High School (AGISS), Ghana Law School, Bekyem SHS and many more tested positive to Covid-19, though not a good news. Surprisingly, government after exposing many innocent students to the infection is now taking a U-turn to consider mass testing in this school.
Yesterday, many parents were present at Accra Girls Senior High School in fear and panic to take their wards home, though were not successful. This situation could have been prevented if government had listened to our position of mass testing of students upon resuming.
Few days ago, the minister for information in a statement issued stated that the President Nana Akuffo-Addo has gone into Self Isolation for 14 days upon expert advice. He further asserted that the initial Covid-19 test on the president was negative. We believe that the statement is contradictory and confusing to the public. Why would the President go into isolation if he tests negative to Covid-19?
From public health point of view, persons who test positive to a virus are isolated whereas negative but highly exposed cases go into quarantine. The minister should therefore be clear with his statement and not seek to mislead the public.
Again, we reiterating our recommendation to government to conduct mass testing for all students who have reported back to school in ALL Schools and not limit testing to only AGISS. Moreover, we maintain that the closure of all schools is the best way to go to prevent further spread of the COVID-19 cases among students.
As health workers complain daily about inadequate PPEs and needed resources to help manage Covid-19 cases, woefully, there is a viral video demonstrating how health personnel have resorted to the use of motorcycle to transport contact-tracing samples to Noguchie for testing because the COVID-19 rapid response vehicles have been diverted to aid in the ongoing EC registration process, which should be not be the case.
We therefore urge government to do the needful by reviewing his policies and programs to fight COVID-19.