Patients at the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) COVID-19 Treatment and Isolation Centre have appealed to the general public to stop stigmatising healed COVID-19 patients and their families.

The appeal was made when a group of media personnel from British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Consumer News and Business Channel (CNBC), China toured the facility to assess the progress and successes chalked at the facility on Wednesday 10 June 2020.

Patients on admission at the facility said they had observed the manner in which the general public treats patients treated and discharged of COVID-19. They advised that people must rather support healed COVID patients and their families, rather than stigmatising them, which may cause them more psychological stress.

They expressed their appreciation to the medical team at the Centre for their professionalism which has contributed significantly to the quick recovery rates recorded at the Centre and advised all to avail themselves to be tested whenever they feel sick as well as adhere strictly to all the safety protocols outlined by the Ministry of Health.   

The tour covered both the Level 1 and 2 of the GAF COVID facility managed by the 37 Military Hospital as part of its contribution to the nation’s fight against COVID-19. The Level 1, located at the premise of the 37 Military Hospital, is a holding facility that deals with preliminary actions taken on patients suspected of COVID-19.

Medical Officers at the Level 1 facility perform tasks that include registration of suspected patients, taking of samples, holding highly symptomatic patients until test proves positive and holding patients  who were traced by contact tracers.  It is made up of wards for male and female suspected patients, administration tent, a conference room as well as a Disease Surveillance Unit.

The Disease Surveillance Unit is tasked to keep data of all patients and activities at both the Level 1 and 2 facilities. These data include details of all patients who visit both facilities, daily test details, contacts traced, follow-ups made on those discharged.

Medical Officer at the Level 1 facility, Capt Bernard Yinbil Teng briefed the media and said the facility had over the period admitted over 60 symptomatic patients as well as a number of asymptomatic patients who had been asked to self-isolate. He said in a day the facility records an average of one hundred (100) suspected cases arising from  patients visiting the hospital and contact tracing. He explained that when results of suspected patients held at the facility turn out negative they were either discharged to go home or readmitted at the hospital to continue with the treatment of other ailments they might have reported. In the case where the tests results turn out positive such patients are prepared and transferred to the Level 2 facility.

At the Level 2 facility located at the El Wak Sports Stadium, the liaison Officer, Maj Matthias Yeli-Ahig, who guided the media on the tour, explained that the Level 2 was a United Nations Level 2 field referral hospital but had to be deployed by the Ghana Armed Forces in the interim to support the fight against COVID-19. The facility has a well-equipped Surgical Theatre and an Intensive Care Unit.

The Deputy Commanding Officer (DCO) of the facility, Lt Col Delali Dzodzi Adzigbli, told the media the facility had admitted 77 cases since it was opened and has not recorded any death. He added that the medical team had successfully conducted three surgeries of which two were caesarean sections. All patients who underwent the surgery had subsequently tested negative and have since been discharged.

The DCO advised that the safety protocols as outlined by the Ministry of Health were strictly adhered to, especially regular hand washing and the use of nose masks. He expressed his appreciation to the Armed Forces High Command for the timely logistical support and used the platform to appeal to the general public to support the facility with quality Personal Protective Equipment such as the N95 facemasks, surgical masks, coveralls and gynae gloves to save lives.