Legon students to fill Ebola forms for hall admission

The University of Ghana (UG) will not allow students who refuse to fill an e-risk assessment form into its halls of residence.

The online form is meant to collect data on the Ebola epidemic on students and staff for surveillance purposes. 

The Director of Public Affairs of the university, Mrs Stella Amoa, who made this known to the Daily Graphic , said the form was compulsory as it formed part of a number of contingency measures the university had put in place for surveillance purposes.

Among other things, the form asks for information including where one comes from or travelled over the holidays, if one had experienced symptoms or had been close to anyone who experienced the disease.

Mrs Amoa said the university had formed a committee to brainstorm how to handle any eventuality, while the Legon Hospital had also been put on alert.

She said the authorities were also expecting some equipment from the Ghana Health Service.

Government directive
Most universities were to reopen in August, but a directive from the government to suspend the reopening temporarily froze the academic calendar.

The directive, which also applied to all private tertiary institutions, was to allow for the necessary screening and preparedness measures to be instituted to ensure that tertiary institutions were adequately placed in readiness for any outbreak of the Ebola virus in the country.

With most of the universities in Accra either reopened or preparing to reopen this week, a number of them including the UG, Ghana Institute of Journalism and the Regent University College are putting measures in place to prevent the outbreak of the disease on the campuses and in the country at large.

According to UG figures, from the 2012/ 2013 academic year, the university had 953 foreign students with 543 coming from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region while the others were from the Americas, Asia, Europe, Oceania and other parts of Africa.

Mrs Amoa said the university would keep a close eye on students from Ebola-endemic countries to prevent the disease from spreading to the country.

She said the school would also carry out public education among students and had already sent guidelines on the Ebola via email to all students.

‘We are also meeting with all hall authorities of the university for surveillance because we need to get feedback and keep our campuses Ebola-free,’ she added.

The Senegal student case
Concerns about international students being a vehicle for spreading the deadly Ebola virus heightened with reports that Senegal had confirmed its first Ebola case one week after closing its border with Guinea over fears that the deadly outbreak could spread to the country.

CNN reported that Senegal’s health minister, Awa Marie Coll Seck, confirmed that a 21-year-old university student from Guinea was infected with the Ebola virus and had been placed in quarantine in the Fann Hospital in Dakar, according to a Senegal News Agency report.

Officials in Guinea alerted Senegal last Wednesday after losing track of the student.

GIJ and Regent University
At the GIJ, where academic work has resumed, the Registrar, Mr Perry K. Fosu, said the school was in the process of procuring soap and sanitisers for all the washrooms and vantage points.

‘We are also using the campus radio, Radio GIJ, to educate the students on what to do and not to do with respect to the virus. We are collaborating with the SRC for the anti-Ebola campaign,’ he added.

The institute currently has 12 foreign students from Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo and Nigeria.

He said since the university had no clinic of its own, it relied on Ridge Hospital for all its health needs.

The Deputy Head of Communications of the Regent University College of Science and Technology, Mr Emmanuel A.S Quaye, told the Daily Graphic in a telephone interview that the university had designated an isolation room for screening for high temperature and other symptoms of Ebola.

‘We have also purchased personal protection equipment. If we have any suspicion of Ebola, we know what to do,’ he said.  

Mr Quaye said besides providing sanitisers at vantage points for the use of students, the university also had a facility called Veronica bucket provided by the Ministry of Health where students were encouraged to wash their hands at the entrance of the university.

At the University of Professional Studies, fresh students were seen busily registering.

A source told the Daily Graphic that measures were being put in place, but declined to give further details.

The Ebola scare
More than 1,000 people have died and 1,800 have become infected since the outbreak of the disease in February.

The Ebola outbreak – the worst ever – has so far been recorded in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, but has spread to other countries such as Nigeria and Senegal in recent months.

The virus is transmitted among humans through bodily fluids.

In Ghana, as of August 12, a total of 37 suspected cases had been evaluated but proved negative.

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