COVID-19 Frontline: China shares experience with Ghana

Editor's Note: The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 12. As of May 4, 215 countries and regions worldwide have confirmed over 3,400,000 cases, with more than 239,000 deaths, according to the WHO. CGTN's live program "COVID-19 Frontline" invites frontline medical workers and experts from China and all over the world to share their experiences and take questions from social media users in the hope of providing more information to those who are battling against the pandemic.

In the latest episode of CGTN's live program "COVID-19 Frontline," doctors who have worked on the frontlines to contain the epidemic in China and Ghana exchanged their experiences of fighting the coronavirus.  

According to Ghana's Ministry of Health, as of May 4, there have been over 2,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 18 deaths. Across Africa, the total number of confirmed cases has exceeded 46,000, and the death toll tops 1,800.  

Live: Exchange in COVID-19 concerns between China and Ghana

Chinese doctors contribute to virus containment in Ghana 

Shi Yongyong, chief of the 9th Batch of China Medical Team in Ghana, said his team arrived at Accra, the capital city of Ghana, on December 28, 2019. Originally, their job was to help provide routine medical services to local inhabitants and the Chinese people in Ghana. But when the epidemic broke out in January, they started to help people contain the disease.

"On January 22, our medical team drafted the first proposal of the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 [in Ghana], which was released on social media platforms, telling people what to do," he said. 

His team has assisted the Chinese Embassy in Ghana to provide medical services and publicize knowledge about the virus and prevention and control measures on the website of the embassy, as well as some local information platforms.  

Shi, who's also the chief Physician at Department of Anesthesia, Guangdong Provincial Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said they had raised some medical supplies from China to Ghana, including personal protective equipment (PPE).  

Secondary infection and asymptomatic patients 

Joseph Oliver Commey, infectious disease physician at Lekma Hospital, who's also a member of Ghana National COVID-19 Case Management Team, said some recovered patients had tested positive again in PCR tests, while there were some asymptomatic patients whose PCR test results remained positive for 30 days. He wanted to know how to handle such patients. 

Chang Zhigang, deputy director of the surgical ICU at Beijing Hospital, said both situations had also happened in China, but in very small numbers.  

He said only less than 0.1 percent of recovered patients tested positive again in PCR tests, which is a complicated issue still under investigation in China. But the positive PCR test result does not necessarily mean they got secondary infection, since technical factors, such as the sensitivity of the reagent and how the swabs were taken, could explain the results. It might also indicate that a small amount of virus remained in the patient's body.  

So far, there is no evidence that such patients are contagious, although the possibility could not be fully ruled out. In China, recovered patients who were discharged from the hospital still need to be quarantined in designated places for 14 days and get negative results in repeated PCR tests before they could be released, he noted.  

As for asymptomatic patients, they should also be quarantined until their PCR tests results are negative, he said.  


How to persuade people to undergo home quarantine?

Dr. Commey also asked about how to mobilize potential virus carriers, like asymptomatic patients, to do home isolation.

Dr. Chang said public education is very important, as the key is to let people realize the fact that COVID-19 is much more infectious than other diseases and home isolation is a necessary method to help contain the spread of the virus. Centralized isolation is better than home quarantine, which China practiced in Wuhan City with temporary hospitals, he added.

In the upcoming programs, more Chinese doctors and experts who had been fighting on the COVID-19 frontline will share their experiences with their colleagues from other parts of the world. You can pose your questions with CGTN using #MyOpinionOnCOVID19 on Facebook.