The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has cautioned that the outbreak of the COVID-19 at workplaces is increasing at a worrying rate.
It has, therefore, appealed to businesses and organisations to employ the use of online mechanisms that will help reduce human contact in their operations, while enforcing strict adherence to other preventive and safety protocols, such as the wearing of face masks and social distancing.
Addressing the Minister’s Press Briefing, a national platform for providing updates on the COVID-19 response in Accra yesterday, the Director-General of the GHS, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, said: “We must ensure that all people, staff and visitors are in face masks throughout their stay in the office and adhere to social distancing protocols.”
Dr Kuma-Aboagye attributed the upsurge in cases at workplaces to the number of common touch surfaces within the working environment, such as doorknobs, desk phones, tablets, computers and clock-in machines, among others.
He, thus, recommended that businesses employ arrangements that could include work-from-home policies, shift system and virtual office to help mitigate workplace outbreaks.
He also recommended periodic fumigation, which should include company vehicles, and the institution of handwashing and sanitising facilities.
He also mentioned the sharing of official vehicles in many instances and sanitary facilities within the working environment as reasons for the spread of the virus at workplaces.
Dr Kuma-Aboagye said the concern about the rise in workplace outbreaks was because such outbreaks required more than just the number of institutions involved, explaining that every single case recorded at a workplace was a potential outbreak due to the level of human contact and interaction in those environments.
He buttressed the point with an example that during the first surge the country experienced in 2020, nine workplace outbreaks were recorded, resulting in about 700 confirmed cases.
He said any place where people congregated for any purpose was an automatic conduit for outbreaks, which could only be stopped with strict adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols, such as the wearing of face masks, social distancing, frequent cleaning of surfaces, among others.
Providing an update on the national situation, the Director-General said as of January 25, 2021, 63,883 cases had been recorded, out of the 757,560 tests conducted.
He said out of the number of cases, 59,553, representing 93.2 per cent, had recovered, while 390 had died.
He said all the 16 regions had active cases, with the Greater Accra having the majority.
“The number of new infections remains high but has stagnated, with no further increase being observed in the last one week.
“The total number of active positives we have ever recorded is about 63,883. We have tested about 757,000 plus people, with a cumulative positivity of 8.4 percent, and our current active cases are about 3,940. We have recorded 390 deaths so far, and you can see that there has been rapid escalation in the number of deaths in the last few weeks,” Dr Kuma-Aboagye said.
He reiterated the fact that beating the pandemic was a shared responsibility and called on all to take their safety into their own hands by adhering strictly to the preventive and safety protocols.
He reminded the public of their mandatory and civic obligation to always be in face masks before stepping out of their homes.
“We must continue to adhere to hand and respiratory hygiene. Always cough into a face mask, flexed elbow or a tissue and dispose of it immediately into a closed bin and wash or sanitise hands immediately. We must observe the between one and two metres social distancing protocol at all times,” he said.
The Director-General said his outfit was also focusing on the promotion of decongestion at workplaces because there had been a number of workplace outbreaks.
“We encourage virtual meetings and working from home policies,” he said.
He reminded the public that the protocols were complementary and effective when almost every member of the population adhered to them.