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Details emerging from last Saturday’s Parliamentary primaries of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) is confirming the fears of many health experts that the event became the breeding and spreading ground for the COVID-19, with two ministers of the Akufo-Addo government currently in hospital undergoing treatment for the disease.
The Minister of Regional Reorganisation and Development, Daniel Kweku Botwe and Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, the Education Minister, have both confirmed they are on admission at the University of Ghana Medical Centre (UGMC), on suspicion that they have contracted the virus.
What this means is that the two ministers; Mr Botwe and Dr Opoku Prempeh, who are Members of Parliament (MP) for Okere Constituency in the Eastern Region and Manhyia Constituency in the Ashanti Region respectively, and had taken part in last Saturday’s primary, might have infected everyone who came into contact with them with the disease.
In the case of Dr Opoku Prempeh, The Herald’s information is that, while in Kumasi for his endorsement by acclamation, he visited a sub-chief of Manhyia, the Apegyahene and he is currently at the UGMC with the Education Minister, receiving treatment.
Already, it has emerged that, William Kwabena Boateng, and the Assemblyman for Ayigya-Ahenbronum and elder brother of the Medical Director of Kwadaso SDA Hospital in Kumasi, Dr. Harry Owusu Boateng, who died of the COVID-19 disease, last week, voted last Saturday, hours before his death.
Mr Kwabena Boateng, an NPP delegate and the first Presiding Member for Oforikrom Municipal Assembly, reportedly collapsed at the polling station after he had voted. He was rushed to a private hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival at about 9 a.m. on Sunday.
Kumasi-based Nhyira FM confirmed that Mr Boateng voted in Saturday’s NPP primaries at Ayigya, identified as a hotspot for Covid-19 in the Oforikrom Municipality.
But additional reports available to The Herald is that another member of Dr Harry Owusu Boateng’s family; a female, has also passed on from an illness suspected to be COVID-19.
Interestingly, the Ashanti Region on Wednesday, recorded 205 new cases of the coronavirus and three mortalities as against 42 cases and no death the previous day. The Region also saw a significant increase in the number of contacts identified from 170 on Tuesday to 453 on Wednesday.
According to the latest Regional COVID-19 update released by the Regional Health Directorate, 352 contacts of confirmed cases were contacted with 297 samples taken on Wednesday, June 24.
The number of deaths which stood at 38 on Tuesday is now 41 while active cases have also moved from 1,001 to 1,165 despite 37 more recovering from the virus.
The report, however, indicated that total admissions and cases in isolation remained 48 and 134 respectively. Also remaining unchanged is the number of districts that have recorded confirmed cases which is 39 out of 43 districts.
The Ashanti Region currently has cumulative confirmed cases of 3,161, as well as 1,955 recoveries and second to only the Greater Accra Region which leads the national tally.
The Herald on Wednesday reported how the Regional Reorganisation and Education Ministers, are on admission at UGMC.
The story was later that day corroborated by Joy News sources, that Dan Botwe and Dr Opoku Prempeh, were at a place called the ‘Red zone’ where only Covid-19 positive patients are kept.
The sources could not tell whether they have tested positive for COVID-19 but reiterated that the two gentlemen are on admission where only persons with full Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) can go.
Mr Botwe is said to have reported at the Hospital last Saturday, but there are conflicting reports about when Mr Opoku Prempeh went there.
Some sources said he went there on Sunday to self-isolate after being suspected of contracting the virus, while others say he reported on Monday.
The Education Minister is said to have gone back to the Centre after taking a voluntary test at the same facility and decided to self-isolate.
Kwasi Obeng-Fosu, the Deputy PRO for the Education Ministry of Education, is reported to have told Onua TV Wednesday, that NAPO, as he is popularly called, returned from the Manhyia Constituency on Monday after his acclamation.
“He went for voluntary testing and as a medical doctor; he did not want to mingle so he decided to self-isolate,” he is quoted to have said.
The Ministry of Education, later announced that Napo had been detained at the UGMC, awaiting results of a COVID-19 test.
Both the Manhyia South MP and Okere MP in a statement were caught dancing around the subject, saying although they were on admission, they were only there awaiting the results of their COVID-19 tests.
Interestingly, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), has a VIP testing arrangement for people in the same category, which takes less than 24 hours. Meaning the two have long known their COVID-19 status.
But the statement issued by the Ministry, said the Manhyia South MP, was feeling unwell for a couple of days and decided to go in for a second test after testing negative in a prior test on June 16.
The statement further explained that Dr Opoku Prempeh's detention is a "precautionary measure for further observation due to his condition".
It disclosed that on June 16, Dr Opoku Prempeh first underwent various tests, including COVID-19, after he felt unwell for a couple of days.
After testing negative, he travelled to his Constituency, where he was endorsed as the NPP Parliamentary candidate through a popular acclamation.
"He tested negative for the virus, and this informed his decision to travel to his constituency for his acclamation on Saturday 20th June 2020," the statement said.
"Following his return to Accra, he still felt unwell and decided to check himself in for further tests, including a second test for COVID-19.
Although the results are not out, he has been detained at the UGMC as a precautionary measure for further observation due to his condition".
Dan Botwe, later also issued a statement, saying he had also been admitted to the same health facility. In a press statement signed by the Okere MP himself, he said he went on admission upon feeling unwell early this week.
“This is to inform the general public that I am currently on admission at the University of Ghana Medical Center upon feeling unwell earlier this week. I have undertaken several tests, including tests for Covid-19 and await results", he said, and promised, “I will endeavour to inform the general public about my result when I am informed of it”.
Dan Botwe, who was unchallenged and therefore ran the NPP parliamentary primary unopposed, was acclaimed the party's candidate for the December 2020 parliamentary race.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr Daniel Asare, has tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Dr Asare, is said to have gone through the necessary protocols and is responding to treatment.
Media reports have suggested he has been out of office for about a fortnight due to the disease, but a key source close to him assured "he is doing very well." But three other staff of his office have also gone into isolation.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Health Insurance Authority, Lydia Dsane-Selby, who tested positive for COVID-19, are also said to be doing well.
Meanwhile, the MP for Effutu Constituency in the Central Region, Alexander Kwamina Afenyo-Markin, who was also reported to have been infected, has denied the claim.
He also denied he was on admission. “By the grace of God, I’m not in the state [the editor] is imagining me to be or he is thinking I’m in, or I’m not in the state those his sources have told him I’m in,” he said in a Facebook live interview, following The Herald’s publication on Wednesday.
He explained that he has been in Winneba the past few days and was at the Winneba High Court on Monday and Tuesday.
The Facebook live video showed that he had just finished another court session Wednesday and decided to clarify the matter from the forecourt of the court.
Mr Afenyo said he would not sue The Herald in question but would wish that they do the needful in subsequent publications.
He mentioned he would be in Parliament later in the day.
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