Information Minister Kojo Opoong Nkrumah says the government is not looking to close schools as many Ghanaians are requesting amid high increase in Covid-19 cases.
Speaking on JoyNews’ ‘Beyond The Lockdown,’ he said although some schools have recorded cases, the data available shows that if handled well the virus will not spread in those schools.
“Because of the regular screening, they (the schools) are in a position to determine if there is a suspected case and an elaborate process for ensuring how to deal with it, is put in place.
“The challenge is that in some instances there have been suspected cases that have been communicated in a way to parents and students that has heightened anxiety when in many of those cases it turns out to be untrue,” he said.
Using Archbishop Porter Girls, where one student has tested positive for the virus, as an example, he stated that about 1,250 students returned to school.
Among them, 19 showed signs of Covid-19 during a general screening exercise and were subsequently isolated.
Forty-one students who came into contact with the 19 were also isolated. Out of the 60 students isolated, one person was confirmed positive when tests were conducted.
“They are proceeding to ensure that there will be treatment for the one person. They will now proceed to test the entirety of the students and based on that they can make a decision.”
Oppong Nkrumah added that if no one in the school test positive except the one student they will be no need for parents to worry.
He stated that it is important to make decisions based on informed data. This needed information, he explained, will help alleviate fears or anxiety among students and parents.
“It is the numbers that are directing the decisions that must be made. If they have tested and found one person who is positive, they isolate and treat that person. Then they do the mass testing on the other persons on campus and those persons are negative, why must that school be shut down?”
The Information Minister added that government has given out about 3.6 million reusable face masks to be shared among students.
Thermometer guns, facemasks, hand sanitizers, liquid soaps and other needed health tools have been sent to help protect the students and teachers from contracting the virus.
His comment comes after many people called for schools to be closed when some of them began recording cases.
Accra Girls and Porter Girls are among schools which have recorded cases.
Many are accusing the government of toying with the lives of students especially after public offices like BOST, Cocobod and the Education Ministry have closed after recording cases.
However, Oppong Nkrumah explained that the offices were closed because the number of infections was high unlike that of the schools.
In Accra Girls, where six students have tested positive, the testing of their contacts are currently ongoing as it has been for these public offices, he added.
“We had a big scary conversation about Accra Girls Senior High School, the news was vocal in such a way that we had parents rush to the gate in a way that they were putting themselves at risk.”
“Like it is happening in the institutions that have been shut down when there is an index case, they isolate and treat. Then, they do the mass testing of everybody. Should it be found that there is significant community spread there, all of those people will be isolated for treatment and that institution will be shut down.”
He added that it is important to spread calm so that the needed information can be communicated effectively without risking the lives of students and their parents.