Coronavirus: WHO hasn’t recommended evacuation of Ghanaian students yet – Health Ministry

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Government says evacuation of Ghanaians in China following the outbreak of the deadly novel coronavirus is not advisable.

According to the Ministry of Health, consultations and engagements with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other regional bodies do not encourage the evacuation of Ghanaian nationals from China.

This follows a three-day ultimatum issued to the government by the Minority in Parliament to evacuate the students to a less prone area in China or back to Ghana.

But WHO also noted that these measures can be implemented without unnecessary restrictions on international travel.

In a statement, the Ministry said the government is liaising with the embassy in China to ensure that all citizens continue to remain safe as no Ghanaian student has been reported to have contracted the virus.

“We are working in collaboration with the World Health Organisation, West African Health Organisation, US Centres for Disease Control and other Development Partners, discussing and reviewing our strategies day by day. So far, all advice through consultations and engagements is not encouraging us to undertake mass evacuation because sub-regional consultation- the West African Health Organisation is engaging member states and has not recommended evacuation yet.”

The Ministry also said it is reviewing the situation by the hour and will when necessary, tow the appropriate next line of action, including evacuation.

“The Government of Ghana is much concerned about our citizens in China especially the Ghanaian students and is working to ensure their protection, safety and wellbeing as we continue to supply basic needs. We want to assure the public that, as per the management of all outbreaks which is a dynamic activity, we will continue to monitor the situation and act as appropriate. We will further wish to advise Ghanaians to delay non-essential travels to China,” the statement added.

Students desperate for evacuation

Ghanaian students in Wuhan have been calling on the government to evacuate them over the novel coronavirus fears.

But the government insists it will take its time on the matter and weigh its options.

A Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, also complained about the lack of action from the state on the calls.

The Special Adviser to the President on Health, Dr. Anthony Nsiah Asare, however, stressed that the government will not bow to any pressure.

Parents mount pressure 

Meanwhile, parents of Ghanaian Students in Wuhan are mounting pressure on the government to evacuate Ghanaian students currently locked up in Wuhan as the outbreak intensifies.

They contend that the government will face their wrath should any Ghanaian student contract the epidemic.

Spokesperson for the parents, Daniel Nii Lartey called on the government to act immediately to forestall any negative developments.

“Words cannot describe the situation as we speak now. The students are in fear and so much panic now. It is worse than what the Ministeries are saying that everything is under control so the students should still stay there. Even the Chinese are running away from Wuhan, the epicentre. If we get to hear that one student is sick from any other form of disease, we’ll not take it lightly with this government at all. What should be done immediately is to evacuate the students.”

Public Health Director warns against evacuating Ghanaian students in China

The Director of Public Health at the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Badu Sarkodie has advised against evacuating Ghanaian students in Wuhan, China, following the outbreak.

He noted that this would be in line with some recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Among other things, WHO recommended that measures be put in place to limit the risk of exportation or importation of the disease between countries.

Dr. Sarkodie instead advised that the government provides needed resources to the students in China.

“If they have adequate support from the government of Ghana beyond what the government of China is providing here, it would provide them adequate assurance and hope and let them be confident enough to keep staying there.”

“It will be better they stay there and as much as possible. That is what I will recommend because I agree with the World Health Organisation,” he said.

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