In Ghana, 55 test positive for COVID-19 in high school after partial reopening

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Fifty-five persons have tested positive for the coronavirus in a high school in Ghana.

This was contained in a joint statement signed by Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, director-general, Ghana Education Service (GES); and Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, director-general, Ghana Health Service (GHS), on Monday.

The development comes weeks after schools in Ghana partially reopened in June.

President Nana Akufo-Addo had directed graduating senior secondary students to resume on June 22, while their counterparts in junior and tertiary schools had resumed earlier.

Both GHS and GES said the 55 infected persons were among the 314 staff and students of Accra Girls Senior High School who were tested for the virus.

“Following the first report of COVID-19 cases in some Senior High Schools in the country on 6th July, 2020, the Ghana Health Service and the Ghana Education Service instituted a number of measures to determine the extent of the outbreak and containment measures. Accra Girls Senior High School has recorded most cases from the first report to date,” the statement read.

“As at 13th July, 2020, a total of 314 persons (student and staff) from the School have been tested. Out of these, 55 have been confirmed positive for COVID-19 while 259 persons tested negative.”

The government agencies said measures taken so far include identification and segregation of infected persons, as well as disinfection of schools.

According to the statement, sample collection and laboratory testing of all contacts identified and suspected cases have commenced, while adequate personal protective equipment have been provided to health workers stationed in schools.

“All confirmed cases have been transferred to designated national treatment and isolation centres for management,” it read.

Other measures listed included “restriction of number of students that attend dining at a particular time, enforcement of social distancing protocols, enhanced hand hygiene practices and the proper use of the facemask.”

“Education on COVID-19 prevention and control has been intensified within the school. Counselling and psychological support is being provided to the students,” they added.

“The school has designated a quarantine and isolation centre. Parents and guardians of affected students have been duly contacted. Staff of the school have been reassured.”

According to the statement, similar measures are being implemented in other schools where cases have been reported.

Parents, guardians and the general public were given the reassurance that “efforts are being made to ensure the safety of our staff and students”.

Matthew Prempeh, Ghanaian minister of education, had earlier said over 90 percent of the staff of the ministry have contracted the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, in Nigeria, there has been controversy over whether or not to reopen schools which have been closed since March.

The federal government had earlier announced the decision to allow schools reopen for the conduct of the West African Senior Secondary School Examination (WASSCE), scheduled to begin on August 5.

The decision was later reversed and the government announced that students of federal government colleges would be exempted from WASSCE for the year 2020.

However, the ministry of education has now released guidelines for safe reopening of schools across the country.

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