A student at the Konongo Wesley High School in the Ashanti Region has tested positive for coronavirus.

As a result, over 260 persons have been identified as contacts who got close to the said student.

The Municipal Chief Executive for Asante Akyem Central, Susan Akomea, said two other students were held in isolation with their samples taken for testing.

“As we speak, over 260 samples have been sent for testing”, the Municipal Chief Executive explained in an interview with Virgin City Radio, adding: “Obviously, samples of his colleagues in the classroom, dormitories and close teachers needed to be tested,”

The student was earlier rushed to the Konongo Government Hospital after showing symptoms of the virus, but was diagnosed with malaria and asked to return home.

He is reported to have left on his own to travel from Konongo to Kumasi only to find out that he is COVID-19 positive.

Meanwhile, Dalex Finance COO, Mr Joe Jackson, has said keeping senior high school students in boarding houses in this COVID-19 era is helping the community spread of the virus.

Apart from Konongo Wesley High, within the past few days, nine students of Mpraeso Senior High School in the Kwahu South District of the Eastern Region have been isolated over COVID-19 fears.

The school is awaiting results of tests conducted on the students as they receive medical attention and management.

It follows the confirmation of eight cases at Accra Girls’ Senior High School which threw the student body and parents into pandemonium.

Subsequently, there have been reports of COVID-19 scares in other senior high schools across the country, just about a month after the President directed that they be opened for final-year students to go sit their exams.

A few days ago, a final-year student of KNUST SHS in Kumasi died on campus after bouts of vomiting and stomach issues.

The school authorities, according to the students, neglected their colleague out of fear of contracting COVID-19.

Speaking on Class91.3FM’s Executive Breakfast Show on Thursday, 9 July 2020 about the reopening of senior and junior high schools for final-year students vis-à-vis reports of community spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in SHSs, Mr Jackson said: “On one hand, we are clear in our minds that COVID-19 is here to stay. On the other hand, we are also clear in our minds that … our overcrowded schools, our overcrowded dormitories etc., were not going to be safe for these kids”.

“What we’ve done is run an experiment and there were several social psychologists who said: ‘These kids are not and will keep to social-distancing [protocols] when they get there’. And you asked a very important question: ‘At what point do we decide?’ And it is disingenuous to tell me that if they go back [home], they are not safe. Each of us is safe in his home and so long as we stay in our homes and we flatten the curve until we get it under control”.

“By going back to school, take full responsibility for the effect …”, he said, adding: “At this moment, there are indications that the kids are getting ill, yes, they brought it from home, but the danger is: how many people they have spread it to in the conditions they are in? If I’m in my house and I get infected, the spread is limited to my immediate circle”.

“If you go to school with 300, 400 people and more and you’re infected in those conditions that we’ve seen, then the spread would be much worse when they go back into their communities”, Mr Jackson pointed out, adding: “So, let us accept that an experiment was made, nobody is saying we shouldn’t learn to live with COVID-19; it may even require some dramatic changes to the model of education”.

He said the current situation calls for some drastic decisions to be taken.

“We may even decide that boarding schools will not work under these circumstances, so, everybody should become a day student. They are not easy decisions but I’m saying that by asking the children to go to school under the circumstances of living in a boarding house when we already knew that community spread was available, all we did was to put a lot more people at risk”.

Mr Jackson also said there was the need for clear risk modelling within which timely decisions could be taken to mitigate further spread of the virus among students.

“You have to accept responsibility for that. And it’s a legitimate question to ask you: At what point in our modelling of this thing, do we say the risk was OK? Or at what point do we say: This went badly, let’s step back. Because the arguments being presented don’t give us a model for us to operate with”.

To him, the authorities should not hesitate to back-track as other countries which reopened schools later did.

“And we’ve seen other scenarios where people have stepped back and said: ‘We tried this experiment, it didn’t work’, and it’s fine; we are all in a period of radical uncertainty, so, it’s OK, but you have to accept responsibility”, he said, noting: “We have to say that a lot of people said before you opened the schools that: ‘This sounds like a bad move because putting kids together in the boarding situations we have, it was a disaster waiting to happen’”.

“All the guys [other countries] who have gone to school, they have not done boarding. What was critical in our reopening was the boarding schools and how difficult it was going to be to keep these kids safe under boarding conditions. If these kids were all day students, we may be talking a different argument here”, he stressed.

“It’s about limiting exposure” to the virus, he emphasised.

By Media1

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