Rapid Deployment Expert Group on Health supports Ghana to manage sequence virus variants

Accra, Sept.15, GNA - The Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) is providing training for laboratory staff in the technique of genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 to enable Ghana detect, diagnose, and manage the circulating COVID-19 variants.

The training, to be done in partnership with German Epidemic Preparedness Team (SEEG), is on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the German Federal Ministry of Health and the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

A press statement made available to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Accra on Wednesday, said currently, discussions were advanced for broader support in zoonotic disease - disease transferred from animals to humans’ control.

The statement said, Minister Gerd Müller (BMZ) of the Federal Republic of Germany, said, “COVID-19 is a global pandemic that will truly be over if it is eradicated worldwide”.

“That's why Germany is supporting Ghana with much-needed equipment and training of laboratory staff in genome sequencing to detect viral variants early and enable an improved pandemic response," it said.

It said since March 2020, there had been approximately 119,500 confirmed infections with SARS-CoV-2 and more than 1000 deaths in Ghana.

The statement said after a large wave of infections between May and August 2020, the numbers initially dropped.

It said a second wave of the virus infection began in mid-January 2021 and subsided again in April, however, since the end of June, the country had been hit with a third wave, with active cases rising sharply.

It said most recently, over 7,000 new cases were registered as of 29 August, after an average of only around 50 cases were reported just a few weeks earlier.

The statement said the current outbreak was believed to be largely due to the delta variant, the first case of, which was detected on 23 June.

It said the deployed team in Ghana consisted of five experts from the SEEG cooperation partners, the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, the Friedrich Loeffler Institute for Animal Health (FLI), and the Charité University Hospital Berlin, as well as GIZ.

“The mission focuses primarily on equipping the laboratory of the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research (KCCR) with equipment needed for the sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 and provides appropriate reagents (chemicals) to perform the sequencing,” it said.

The statement said, the SEEG team would help expand the capacity to analyse the spread of coronavirus variants in the Ashanti, Bono East, Ahafo, Ahafo-North and northern regions of Ghana.

It said the KCCR would continue to support an institution that had already been successfully supported for many years through cooperation with the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg.

“This will further improve the existing structures and help adapt to the new COVID-19 pandemic requirements, in addition, it will help to improve diagnostic and research capacities for other infectious disease, relevant to Ghana, beyond the current COVID-19 crisis,” it said.

The statement said the capacity enhancement in genome sequencing was the latest support provided by the German Cooperation to Ghana to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.

It said since March 2020, GIZ on behalf of the German Government, had run risk communications campaigns in remote areas and at crowded places like street markets, procured Personal Protective Equipment for partners and beneficiaries, and supported KCCR with expertise and laboratory equipment.