A lecturer at the Department of Biostatistics- School of Public Health at the University of Ghana, Dr. Justice Aheto has discounted claims by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) that the country has reached its peak of the fast-moving Coronavirus infection.
The Biostatistician says, Ghana currently does not have the supportive and fundamental data needed to arrive at such a conclusion as it fights the pandemic.
Speaking on Eyewitness News, Dr. Aheto asked the Health Service to be circumspect with case management and come clear on the pronouncement.
“We are still working together in order to get reliable data that can help us estimate the prevalence of the infection and the peak of it. We haven’t got there yet so I don’t know which data he is speaking to. Something we need to know is the reproductive rate so we could tell how many people can be infected within a day to enable us to make a forecast on how many people will be affected, recovered, or dead with a specified time period. It is only when we have this available to us before we can say that Ghana is at its peak when it comes to the infection. But as of now, we have not been able to get that data yet. The figures they churn out are accumulated figures and not daily data. We need this data to be able to make a proper determination as to whether we are getting to the peak or we are decreasing. This has not been done yet so I don’t know which data the Ghana Health Service Director is using. In instances like this, you cannot determine at which rate you are reaching your peak.”
Director of Public Health at the GHS, Dr. Badu-Sarkodie who made the announcement also said, authorities are monitoring the situation and expect that the number of cases will start declining.
But Dr. Aheto is convinced that that the projection is near impossible.
He has however predicted a hike in the number of confirmed cases in the next two weeks.
“We don’t have any meaningful data to inform policy decisions. That is the bottom line. Trust me on this. I can assure you that we are not at that stage where they can tell us that we have reached our peak. We are not there yet. Mark my words, let’s give ourselves two weeks, we will see the figures coming out, ” he predicted.
Ghana’s COVID-19 outlook
On Monday, May 5, 2020, 550 new cases were announced which took the national case count of confirmed cases to 2,719.
There are also 294 recoveries and 18 deaths.
Out of the 2,407 active cases in Ghana, 88 percent are in very healthy conditions. About five of them are however moderately ill.
So far, Ghana has tested 130,502 suspected cases.
The positivity rate is said to be 2.01 percent while the mortality rate has been calculated as 0.66 percent.
The Greater Accra Region is still leading the chart with 2,332 cases, followed by the Ashanti and Eastern Regions with 124 and 94 cases respectively.
Clearing of backlog
The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Ghana’s largest lab testing for coronavirus in the country has completed testing the backlog of about 18,000 samples, giving it room to now test and report on samples within 24 hours.
Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Patrick Kumah Aboagye has said the last batch of the backlog was cleared over the weekend and the results are part of the new 550 cases confirmed in the last Ghana Health Service update.
“As of now, we have recorded 2,719 cases across the country. This covers all the cases that were diagnosed since the first case was diagnosed on the 12th of March. Since the last update, we’ve had an increase of about 550 cases and this has come out of the nearly 18,000 tests conducted in the last few days over the weekend, wiping out the entire backlog at Noguchi,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Director of Virology at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Prof. William Ampofo says the Kumasi Center for Collaborative Research has about 1,982 samples it is yet to test adding that they are hopeful that all that backlog will be cleared by Thursday.
“I just crosschecked with Professor Richard Philip at KCCR and he has 1,982 samples awaiting testing, it was 3,500 yesterday [Monday] so they worked all night. He expects that by Thursday, all backlogs will be done,” he said.
When the backlogs are cleared and more testing labs come onboard, Ghana is expected to be able to test and report on cases faster than is being currently done.