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How Bawku Youth Parliament initiative got suspected Covid-19 patient to self-isolate

Following President Nana Akufo-Addo’s announcement of a partial lockdown in the Greater Accra and parts of the Ashanti Region last week, the Bawku Youth Parliament, a wing of the National Youth Parliament took a bold step that later resulted in the detection of suspected coronavirus patient, now in self-isolation.

After the President’s announcement last Friday, there were fears among some Ghanaians that persons living in the areas affected by the partial lockdown would try to escape to other parts of the country before the lockdown begun at dawn on March 31.

Taking a cue from these fears that were being expressed, the Bawku Youth Parliament decided to collaborate with the Disease Control Unit of Bawku West District, to move to a Police barrier at Tilli – a village which is the first entry point to the eastern part of the Upper East Region. This area, known as the Kusaug is where the Bawku West District, the Bawku Municipality as well as the Tempane, Garu, Pusiga and Binduri districts are all located.

The Bawku Youth Parliament with the help of the Disease Control Unit of Bawku West wanted to screen all returnees from Accra and Kumasi who were bound for the Kusaug areas, to be sure they were not coming back home, carrying the coronavirus.

According to the team leader for the Bawku Youth Parliament, Ali Aminu Sandugu, they carried out the screening exercise from March 28 to 29. 

He said because those days fell on a weekend and their decision to carry out the exercise was almost impromptu, they could not immediately contact their district assemblies for help.

They spent day and night screening passengers who arrived in buses from Accra and Kumasi.

Aminu said they later contacted the Bawku Municipal Chief Executive and the Bawku West District Chief Executive for financial support to feed their team but he was only able to provide supper.

He said the M/DCEs explained that they had not been informed about the exercise by the Bawku Youth Parliament and therefore needed more time to mobilize funds to support them.

“We decided to use our monies to buy food and water and continue with the screening exercise because we know the existing difficulties with our systems in Ghana. So that, in the end, we would have contributed our part to the fight against the spread of this coronavirus”, Aminu told Myjoyonline.com.

He said the members of the Youth Parliament who were present only played the role of talking to the passengers and explaining to them, why undergoing the screening was necessary whiles the health personnel did the actual screening.

Amuni added that security officials at the Tilli barrier were supportive and provided some security for them throughout the exercise.

On March 29, the second day of their screening exercise, the health team that worked with the Bawku Youth Parliament screened a lady traveling on an Imperial Express Bus and suspected she could be carrying the coronavirus.

She had an abnormal temperature and upon further checks, the team realized she was also experiencing some weakness in her body.

“We took the details of everyone on the bus to make sure if the lady eventually tested positive (to the coronavirus), contact tracing won’t be difficult”, one of the healthcare staff said.

Aminu told Myjoyonline.com, that initially, the team wanted all the passengers in the bus to be quarantined but all the calls they made to some M/DCEs he would not name, yielded no immediate results. Since they could no longer hold all the passengers on the bus at the barrier, only the lady suspected to be infected with the virus was held there.

“We approached him about the case and he quickly made arrangements for health officials in his district to pick up the patient and quarantine her appropriately”, a health official said.

The government ambulance at Zebilla in the Bawku West District was later organized to pick up the patient to the Zebilla hospital for her samples to be taken.

Speaking to Myjoyonline.com, Tempane DCE, Paul Abugri confirmed the incident and revealed that the lady is now self-isolation.

He explained that, after the patient was taken to Zebilla where her samples were taken, her body temperature became normal the next day and she showed no other symptoms of Covid-19.

Mr. Abugri said on Tuesday when the patient’s situation remained the same; normal body temperature with no other symptoms, the Tempane District Health Director advised that she be taken home and placed under the 14-day mandatory self-isolation period.

According to the DCE, the patient was transported to her home at Tempane where all members of her household were educated on the coronavirus, how it spreads and the need for the lady to be in isolation for the 14 days.

“Every day, our health director goes with a nurse to her (the patient’s) house, to check her for any vital signs. This will continue till the 14-day self-isolation period is over”, Paul Abugri said, adding that the woman’s family has been very cooperative.

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