Amidst the growing spread of Coronavirus worldwide, the Ghana Catholic Catholic Bishop’s Conference has issued a directive encouraging the faithful in Ghana to receive Holy Communion in the hand.
The directive in the possession of Angelus News also encourages Ministers and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion to wash their hands or use sanitizer before and after the distribution of Holy Communion.
The usual handshakes and hugs that occur during Peace at Mass are also discouraged by the directive.
The document signed by the President of the Conference, Most Rev. Philip Naameh said, ”All are encouraged to receive Holy Communion in the hand. Ministers and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should wash their hands or use sanitizer before and after distributing Holy Communion. Avoid handshakes and embracing one another during Kiss of Peace”
Authorities have confirmed more than 92,000 cases of the virus of which more than 80,000 are in China. More than 3,000 people have died globally, the vast majority in China.
On December 31, 2019, WHO was alerted to several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. The virus did not match any other known virus. This raised concern because when a virus is new, health professionals do not know how it affects people.
One week later, on January 7, Chinese authorities confirmed that they had identified a new virus. The new virus turned out to be coronavirus. A family of viruses that include the common cold, and viruses such as SARS and MERS. This new virus was temporarily named “2019-nCoV.”
WHO has been working with Chinese authorities and global experts from the day it was informed, to learn more about the virus. Thus, how it transmitted, how they can be treated, and what individual countries can do to respond to the health crises.
The World is facing life threatening increases in infections with COVID-19. COVID-19 means Coronavirus December 2019. Global figures are soaring at over 80,000 with about 2000 deaths and increases are recorded by the hour. With Nigeria confirming a case of COVID-19 on 27th February 2020, the number of countries that have reported cases rises to forty-eight (48) including three African Countries. In Ghana, it is reported that over 30 cases have been suspected and all tested negative.
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that are known to cause illness ranging from common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Several known coronaviruses circulate and cause disease in animals. A spill-over event occurs when a virus that is known to circulate in animals is found to have been transmitted to humans due to increased contact between animals and humans.
COVID-19 is a novel Coronavirus that was first confirmed in Wuhan Province China following reports of a series of cases of pneumonia. The disease has since spread to involve others including family members and health workers and spread outside China. Even though the infection has been linked to the animal market in Wuhan, the animal source is yet to be identified.
How is it spread?
Respiratory viruses are usually spread through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes or when one comes in contact with something that has been contaminated with the virus. Everybody is at risk of infection, however people most at risk are those in close contact with animals such as live animal market workers and those who are caring for people infected with the virus such as family members or healthcare workers.
How do I know I have the infection?
From what is known so far, symptoms range from mild to severe; there may be fever and respiratory symptoms such as cough, sneezing and shortness of breath. In severe cases, there could be pneumonia, kidney failure and death. Even though a number of deaths have been recorded, the mortality rate is not known yet.
How can one be diagnosed?
The infection can be diagnosed by a test called PCR, or Polymerase Chain Reaction. This test identifies the virus based on its genetic fingerprint. In Ghana, the test can be done at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Health Research in Accra.
Is there treatment for COVID-19?
Currently, there is no specific treatment for this virus so treatment is supportive. And there is currently no vaccine to protect against it. Treatment and vaccines are still in development.
How should I protect myself from getting COVID-19?
- Clean hands frequently by using soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.
- When hands are visibly dirty, wash hands with soap and water for at least 30 seconds under running water and wipe your hands dry.
- When hands are not visibly dirty you could use an alcohol-based hand rub for 20 seconds or wash hands with soap and water.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands and after touching a sick person or surface that could be contaminated.
- When coughing and/or sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue –throw tissue away immediately and wash hands with soap and water.
- If you have fever, cough, sneezing, sore throat and/or difficulty breathing, seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider.
- Talk to your health care provider about your travel history – all places you have visited recently.
- Inform them if you have had close contact with a person with suspected or confirmed infection or a person who has travelled outside the country recently.
- Inform them if you have visited an animal market or consumed animal products.
- If possible, isolate yourself or avoid contact with family members when you have any of these symptoms.
- Keep a distance of at least one step (one meter) from a person showing signs of fever, coughing, sneezing and difficulty in breathing.
- Physical activity is key, drink a lot of fluid, eat well, reduce stress and have enough sleep.
- As much possible avoid these, crowded areas, shaking of hands, hugging, touching of objects unnecessarily in public areas such as side rails.