Ghana is experiencing a new wave of COVID-19 infections, with cases among school going children on the rise, a situation that has caused fear among parents. Clerics in the west African country are calling on the government to intervene.
Fr. Eric Kwasi Elliason, Director of Health in the Catholic Diocese of Sekondi Takoradi said that it was upon the Ghanaian government to implement practical measures that would prevent further contagion in schools after taking the risk of reopening schools.
“Having taken (the) risk of allowing students to go to school, I seriously think we will need to put in place practical measures to help deal with the pockets of infections being recorded in some of our schools,” said Fr. Eric in an interview with ACI Africa correspondent Monday, July 13.
He added, “As an actor in the health service delivery of Ghana, I caution that the risk we have taken to allow our students to go to school at this cold season is not worth it knowing the virus spreads quickly in such a season.”
On July 13, the Ghana Education Service (GES) reported that 14 Senior High Schools (SHSs) including some Catholic institutions in the Western, Eastern and Volta regions of the country have recorded COVID-19 cases.
In a video message posted on Facebook July 8, Archbishop John Bonaventure Kwofie of Accra Archdiocese encouraged students, teaching and non-teaching staff accompanying students in schools “to be extra careful, to be more diligent in observing the protocols that have been put in place to help all of us stay safe.”
“We have also heard that in some of our schools, students have been found to be infected by this COVID-19. This is frightening, indeed alarming,” Archbishop Kwofie, who doubles as the Apostolic Administrator of the Sekondi-Takoradi said July 8, 2020.
Fr. Eric expressed concern that most affected schools are located in districts that are heavily impacted by COVID-19, especially the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis.
According to the Ghanaian Cleric, the number of infected schools is likely to increase if additional safety measures are not put in place.
At the end of May, President Nana Akufo-Addo announced the reopening of all high schools as well as tertiary institutes to final-year students to complete their academic work.
Tertiary students resumed June 15, senior high school students and those in junior high schools went back June 22. Since then, cases of the coronavirus have been recorded in some schools.
Calls for the closure of schools in the country have been met with laxity from the government, with GES saying it is liaising with the Ghana Health Service (GHS) for a definite decision to be taken.
“As we think of what to do to contain the numbers, we must also know that students are psychologically unstable as they hear some of their colleagues are infected. This also means that we have the task of providing psychological support for these students, which we have neglected to do most of the time,” Fr. Eric told ACI Africa correspondent.
“How do we go about this?” the Priest posed and added, “I seriously think parents have the sole decision to either allow their children to go back to school or not.”
“We have really put the lives of our poor students in danger and we must do all as our country to protect such lives. Our schools are not safe for these students,” he said.
Meanwhile, in a notice to inform parents and guardians of students on a report COVID-19 case, the Headmistress of Archbishop Porters Girls Senior High School at Takoradi, Mrs. Charlotte Aseidu Musa, has urged parents and guardians of students in the school not to worry following a confirmed case of COVID-19 at the school.
“The student who tested positive is doing well. Her parents have been duly informed about the situation and all her dormitory mates have been quarantined waiting to be tested and the lady who tested positive is also doing well,” said Mrs. Aseidu.