Coronavirus

  • Did President John Mahama say he will not donate towards the Covid-19 fight?

    President Mahama says he will not donate his money to support Covid-19 fight – Facebook post.

    Former President John Dramani Mahama has NOT said he will not donate towards the fight against coronavirus. On the contrary, he has already made donations to the Greater Accra Regional Hospital (GARH) to help fight COVID-19. 

    Full Text:

    A Facebook post flagged to fact-checkers by Facebook claims Former President John Dramani Mahama has said he will not donate his money towards the fight against Covid-19. The post was accompanied by a picture of the Former President having a meal – jollof rice- at a dining table. 

    “I will not donate money meant for my future campaigns to support convid 19..there was no virus in my time so why must I donate my money to nana addo….mahama says,” the post reads.

    It has generated 41 shares, 57 likes and over 19 comments. Views shared on the post were varied with some proclaiming disdain at the former president while others say it is untrue. They say it is just concocted to discredit the former president.

    Verification:

    Dubawa spoke to Mr Stan Xoese Dogbe, an aide to Former President John Dramani Mahama, to ascertain the truth behind this post. Mr Dogbe said the claim is untrue.

    “That’s a false post attributed to John Mahama. Mahama has already made a donation to the Ridge Hospital in Accra. His Parliamentary candidates and MP’s are all over the country and are supporting mitigation efforts in their communities and constituencies. And he will continue to support, himself, many other institutions are working to fight COVID-19,” Mr Dogbe said.

    Various media houses and news portals have reported on the donations made by the former president to the Greater Accra Regional Hospital. See here and here.

    Coronavirus: John Mahama donates PPEs to Ridge Hospital health workers
    John Mahama presenting his donation

    The items presented by Mr Mahama included 100 full sets of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), 100 gumboots, 120 doctors’ scrubs, 50 patient gowns, 30 theatre gowns and 400 packs of bottled drinking water.


  • Ghana has not recorded 1,500 Coronavirus cases

    Ghana has recorded 1,500 cases of coronavirus” – Facebook post

    Ghana has not recorded 1,500 coronavirus cases. A total of 137 cases had been confirmed as at the time the claim was made – March 27, 2020. The country currently has 152 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

    Full text

    A Facebook post on 27th March 2020 at 11:31 am GMT, claimed Ghana had recorded over 1000 coronavirus cases. It has generated 300 comments, 21 shares and 306 interactions.

    “Breaking News. Ghana has recorded 1,500 cases of coronavirus,”

    the post reads.

    Although some comments blamed the incumbent government for the sudden rise of the cases, most of them showed disbelief. Some users asked for the source of information while others outrightly dismissed it as fake news. 

    The post was flagged to Dubawa as part of its Third Party Fact-checking partnership with Facebook.

    Verification

    Our verification started at the Ghana Health Service dedicated website for information on the coronavirus. According to the Ministry of Information, the  website is the only accredited website dedicated to the update of coronavirus in Ghana. It is also the official source of information and data on coronavirus in Ghana. 

    Contrary to the claim, Dubawa found that Ghana’s confirmed coronavirus cases have so far not exceeded three digits. As of the time this fact-check was being written, a total of 152 cases have been reported.

    On 27th March 2020, when the claim was made, there were two updates on the website. The first, at 9.15 am GMT, revealed that the country had recorded 136 confirmed cases – 58 from routine surveillance and 78 from travellers who have been mandatorily quarantined. The second update was at 7 pm GMT. It showed a total of 137 confirmed cases. Of the number, 59 were from routine surveillance and 78, travellers who have been mandatorily quarantined.

    This was confirmed by the John Hopkins University and Medicine which has been monitoring and updating coronavirus figures across the world – it also reported 137 cases on March 27, 2020.

    Conclusion

    Ghana has not recorded 1,500 COVID-19 cases. A total of 137 cases were confirmed on March 27, when the claim was made. There are currently 152 confirmed cases as at 30 March 2020, 8.30 am GMT.

  • Parts of Ghana To Be “Locked Down”

    The government of Ghana has imposed restrictions on movement in some major parts of the country for two weeks effective 1 a.m. Monday, 31 March 2020.

    Addressing the nation Friday evening, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said stricter measures needed to be implemented to help curb the spread of coronavirus.

    “However, prevailing circumstances mean stricter measures need to be put in place to stop the spread of the virus in-country in Accra, Tema, Kasoa and Kumasi which have been identified by the Ghana Health Service as the “hotspots” of the infections,” he said.

    The President’s decision is backed by the new Imposition of Restrictions Act, 2020 (Act 1012) passed by Parliament last week despite opposition from the main opposition political party, the National Democratic Congress. The bill gives legal backings to the president’s directives as the country deals with the spread coronavirus in the country. 

    “Effective 1 am Monday 30th March, some 48 hours from now, I have imposed, pursuant to the powers granted the President of the Republic, under the Imposition of Restrictions Act, 2020 (Act 1012), restrictions on the movement of persons in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area ( GAMA, which includes Awutu Senya East) and the Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Area and contiguous districts, for a period of two weeks, subject to review,” he said.  

    Essential service providers are exempted from the lockdown. This includes members of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, journalists, members of the security service assigned lawful duties, producers, distributors and marketers of food and beverages and fuel station staff.

    President Akufo-Addo also announced a COVID-19 Fund to receive contributions and donations to assist the poor and needy. He said he is donating his April, May and June salaries to the fund as seed capital.

    “I am announcing tonight the establishment of a COVID-19 Fund, to be managed by an independent board of trustees, and chaired by former Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, to receive contributions and donations from the public to assist in the welfare of the needy and the vulnerable. I have directed the Controller and Accountant General to pay my next three months’ salary, that is April, May and June, into this Fund,” he said.

    The country as of March 27 has recorded 137 cases of Covid-19. The majority of cases, 78, are travellers who have been mandatorily quarantined and tested following a directive by the president last week. A total of four deaths and two recoveries have so far been recorded. 

    Calls for a Lock Down

    Calls for a lockdown of the country, especially the epicentres of the disease, Accra and Kumasi, have been deafening following an exponential increase in the number of confirmed cases on Tuesday, March 24. The number of confirmed cases jumped from 27 to 53.

    The Ghana Health Service (GHS) at the time indicated the increase was as a result of tests performed on travellers who had been mandatorily quarantined following a directive by the President.

    “The sudden spike in case incidence is as a result of the mandatory quarantine and compulsory testing for all travellers entering Ghana, as directed by the president,” information on the GHS Covid-19 dedicated website explained.

    The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) lent its voice to the calls on Wednesday noting that a restriction on movement is in the country’s best interest.

    “The Lockdown though not a comfortable decision for leadership and citizens alike is a proven option backed by science and along with the other measures will ultimately be in our best interest,” the GMA said in a press statement.

    The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, had said the government was considering all available options.

    “All options are on the table. Government continues to receive advice which is subjected to analysis by experts. The decision to lockdown is not one that is taken lightly or because we’ve seen other persons doing it. Experts continue to provide advice to decision-makers,” he said at a Press Briefing on Tuesday.

  • Coronavirus: Fake Cures To Ignore

    A respiratory disease belonging to the coronavirus family, COVID-19, which started in Wuhan, China has as of March 24, 2020, spread to 195 countries.

    The disease has affected over 375,498 people and claimed over 16,362 lives globally. The hardest-hit countries have been China, Italy, United States of America, Spain and Germany.

    Ghana’s index cases of the COVID-19 were announced on March 12, 2020, and has since risen to 68. Two deaths have been recorded.

    In the wake of the fast-spreading Covid-19, a lot of misinformation about the disease is being bandied around, particularly on social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter. One central area of misinformation has been on a cure for the coronavirus.

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) says there is currently no specific treatment, drug or vaccine for the COVID-19. Patients are treated based on signs and symptoms exhibited. This has however not prevented the spread of misinformation around cures or treatment.

    DUBAWA and fact-checkers around the world have looked into hundreds of these claims and found most of them to be false.

    Here is an overview of some of the most popular coronavirus cures in Ghana.

    Chloroquine and Hydroxyl chloroquine are Covid-19 cures

    Chloroquine and its counterpart, hydroxyl chloroquine, has been all the rage following reports that it has shown some promise in curing the coronavirus. The position of the United States’ President, Donald Trump, that the drugs have shown “tremendous promise” and could be a “game-changer” has sent many stocking up on the drugs. Media reports indicate people have overdosed on the drugs and have had to receive medical treatment following these claims.

    Contrarily, there is no definitive proof that the drugs can cure or are effective against Covid-19.

    Indeed, there have been studies which suggest the drugs are ‘potential’ cures. However, these studies are not conclusive – they have drawbacks. One such research by the Méditerranée Infection University Hospital Institute in Marseille admits that their study’s limitation includes “a small sample size, limited long-term outcome follow-up, and drop out of six patients from the study.”

    On Mr Trump’s validation of chloroquine, he had said the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has approved the drug to treat coronavirus. The FDA said it has not. The authority issued a statement saying it is still studying its effectiveness against the disease.

    Dettol is effective against the Covid-19

    This claim has been shared extensively on social media platforms such as WhatsApp, not just in Ghana but in other parts of the world.

    It came with an image of a Dettol bottle with the word ‘coronavirus’ circled; emphasising the antiseptic’s ability to deal with Covid-19.

    The manufacturer of the Dettol,  Reckitt Benckiser Group plc(RB), says it has not yet tested its products on the novel coronavirus. Therefore, it could not confirm whether Dettol is effective against the new coronavirus strain.

    “Our products have been tested against other coronaviruses (such as MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV) and have been found to kill those. Although 2019-nCoV is a new strain, this virus is very similar to other coronaviruses. We continue to work with our partners to ensure that we have the latest understanding of the virus, route of transmission and will test our product range once health authorities make the strain available,” the producers of Dettol said.

    Garlic prevents coronavirus

    WhatsApp and Facebook have been awashed with this claim.

    There is no scientific evidence to suggest that garlic can cure or prevent Covid-19. Although garlic has shown potential benefits in treating certain conditions, it is categorised by health experts as a food supplement and not medicine. Misuse of garlic would rather result in health complications ranging from bad odour to heartburns.

    Drinking alcohol e.g. akpeteshie kills the virus; also a good substitute for hand sanitisers

    Following a shortage of hand sanitizers around the world, people are devising alternative ways of disinfection and sterilisation. Some have claimed that alcoholic bitters or spirits, in Ghana, the popular ‘akpeteshie’ can serve as a good substitute for hand sanitisers.

    This claim has been debunked by health experts. Alcoholic bitters and spirits on the market have between 40 – 50 per cent alcohol content. This is according to the WHO and the Centre for Plant Medicine Research. An effective hand sanitiser must have 60-70 per cent alcohol content.

    Also, drinking alcohol will not kill the virus. Mr Roger Ahiable, a Deputy Director of Pharmaceutical Services, Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, tells Dubawa: “Consumption of alcohol by mouth cannot disinfect viral colonies in the respiratory system,” he said.

    “We shouldn’t cause other systematic damages by alcohol consumption while trying to prevent infection. It is not wise. It will eventually damage the immune strength of the consumer,” he adds.

    Gargling with saline solution can eliminate the coronavirus

    A viral image shared on Facebook claimed gargling with saline solution or vinegar solution will eliminate the coronavirus.

    This has been debunked by fact-checkers. Gargling with saline solution may be helpful in soothing sore throat, one of the symptoms of the coronavirus. In fact, NHS recommends gargling with warm saline water for adults suffering from sore throats. However, there is no evidence that it kills the virus.

    Indeed, the WHO, in its Q&A about coronavirus on twitter debunked a similar question of whether gargling mouthwash can protect one from COVID-19.

    Used clothes can transmit coronavirus

    “It would be better now and for your safety and that of your children to avoid the use of newly acquired used clothing.” This quote is an excerpt from a viral WhatsApp message. The text warns readers to be cautious when shopping for clothes, and not get used garments amid the pandemic. The author believes that clothes of index victims are being discarded and sold to Africans.

    There is no sufficient evidence to support this claim. While health experts have not ascertained the exact length of time COVID-19 stays active on fabrics, the WHO suggests a low probability of infection via package delivery. This rationale holds as studies show environmental changes and time affect the activeness of COVID-19; all of which are present in shipping clothing from another country.

    Adutwumwaa Bitters cure for Coronavirus

    This claim was shared mainly on Twitter.

    For some who may have seen this claim, it was a joke and not worth the time of fact-checkers. However, in an era where there is a lot of uncertainty, claims or jokes like this may be taken out of context.

    Producers of the medicine, Adumtwumwaa Herbal Industries Limited, have emphatically stated that their product cannot and does not cure the deadly virus.

    A simple guide to help you sort fact from fiction

    1. Pause and reflect before forwarding or sharing a message especially if it makes you scared, anxious or angry.  Fake news creators often want traffic to their sites and they know they can get you to help if they play on your emotions.
    2. Look out for the source of information. Ask whoever sent you the message, ‘where is this from?’ if a source is not cited. If it is, is it a credible, authoritative source?
    3. Verify or crosscheck with credible sources. Note that if it is true, it is likely to be reported by credible media outfits. For information on coronavirus, your best bet is the World Health Organisation, Ghana Health Service, reputable media outfits and fact-checkers.

    For more on coronavirus, visit https://ghana.dubawa.org/tag/coronavirus/


  • Am I At Risk of COVID-19 From Purchasing Second-hand Clothing?

    Viral WhatsApp message advises against purchasing used clothing as they expose buyers to COVID-19.

    While health experts have not ascertained the exact length of time COVID-19 stays active on fabrics, the WHO suggests a low probability of infection via package delivery. This rationale holds as studies show environmental changes and time affect the activeness of COVID-19; all of which are present in shipping clothing from another country. Furthermore, the assertion is not feasible as most countries with index cases have placed forms of travel and trade restriction.

    Full Text

    “It would be better now and for your safety and that of your children to avoid the use of newly acquired used clothing.” The quote mentioned above is an excerpt from a WhatsApp message we received last week. The text warns readers to be cautious when shopping for clothes; to get new and not used garments amid the pandemic. The author believes that clothes of index victims are being discarded and sold to Africans.

    WhatsApp Message

    It further advises readers to share the message as much as possible to get to other people. While this message seems almost logical, a sceptical mind wonders how reasonable its inferences are. Let’s move away from speculations and find out what the facts hold.

    Verification

    Firstly, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that a carrier of COVID-19 can infect another person through droplets from either sneezing or coughing; the other is at risk if said droplets touch eyes, nose or mouth.

    From this, we understand that a person can not contract COVID-19 by merely touching infected surfaces and objects, but by putting the contaminated hand in his mouth, nose or eyes.

    How long does the virus stay on surfaces and the objects they infect?

    The next logical verification step is ascertaining the viruses “shelf life” on surfaces. For this, several pieces of research surmise different durations ranging from hours to days. Further, the WHO suggests COVID-19 behaves similar to other coronaviruses in that factors like the type of surface, temperature and humidity play a role in the duration of its viability, post transmission.

    A BBC publication spoke to this fact. The report referenced studies which show that SARS, MERS, and other coronaviruses without disinfection, can survive on metal, glass and plastic for as long as nine days. The article further added that in low temperatures, some of the viruses could remain for 28 days.

    The column also refers to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine which compares the stability of SARS-COV-1 and SARS-COV-2 in five environmental conditions (aerosols, plastic, stainless steel, copper, and cardboard).

    From the research work, BBC deduced that COVID-19 could survive in droplets for up to three hours after being coughed out into the air but goes extinct on copper after four hours. The virus can live longer on cardboard – up to 24 hours – and up to 2-3 days on plastic and stainless-steel surfaces.

    Unanswered questions and WHO’s Advice

    As established in the preceding, research is still ongoing, and no research pieces are explaining how long the infection stays on clothing. 

    Nonetheless, the WHO already issued advice for this sort of situation.

    ‘If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.’

    World Health Organisation

    Inference and “common sense.”

    Furthermore, the WHO suggests a low probability of infection via package delivery from an infected area. This assertion sits right within such parameters.  

    ‘The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low, and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.’

    World Health Organisation

    Going by this, the risk if any of COVID-19 transmission from these clothes is low; seeing as their transport would involve different weather conditions and environments, not to mention a length of time. 

    More so, the fact that many affected countries have closed their borders rules out this possibility. Nigeria for one had imposed travel bans and suspended international flights from its Lagos and Abuja international airports. 

    Last Resort

    Let’s assume for a second that these infected clothes still make their way to a customer, what then? The consensus for second-hand clothing is to wash before use. This rationale holds for the average Nigerian. Following the WHO’s advice on disinfecting surfaces and regular handwashing as safety methods, one can easily infer washing clothes could eliminate the risk just as well. Still, this is all inference and logic. Going by facts, the probability of this is slim to none.

    Regardless, best practices regarding personal hygiene have never been more imperative. Regular hand washing and clothes washing; leaving in a clean environment via disinfection; all go a long way to keeping you and your family safe during this pandemic.

  • Coronavirus: Ghana’s Case Count Rises To 52

    Ghana’s coronavirus case count has risen to from 27 to 52. This was disclosed by the country’s Minister for Health, Mr Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, at a press briefing Tuesday morning.

    The 25 new cases were confirmed after respiratory residue samples taken from travellers who have been mandatorily quarantined tested positive. 

    According to Mr Agyemang-Manu, 1030 travellers had been mandatorily quarantined since Sunday. Out of the number, residue samples have been taken from 611. After completing testing on 185, about 14 per cent, 25, tested positive.

    “Out of the 185 test results received, we have 25 of those quarantined tested positive. If we add on to the earlier number of 27, it means we have 52 people testing positive in our country at the moment,” Mr Agyemang-Manu said.

    The Minister for Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, said testing is still ongoing for travellers who have been quarantined.

    Ghana’s index cases of the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, was announced on March 12, 2020. Subsequent to that, two deaths have been recorded. 

    Mandatory Quarantine and Border closure

    Ghana’s President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo had on Saturday, March 21, 2020, directed a total closure of all its borders to human traffic with effect from Sunday, March 22, 2020. The president said the move was to aid prevent the spread of the Covid-19.

    “All our borders, that is, by land, sea and air, will be closed to human traffic for the next two weeks beginning midnight on Sunday,” he said.

    Travellers who arrive before the directive took effect were to undergo mandatory quarantine and Covid-19 testing.

  • Video of Zimbabwe Police Brutality not Related to Coronavirus

    Zimbabwe Police Use force to Dispel Recalcitrant Churches – Viral Whatsapp messages

    False; the video is neither related to the coronavirus nor church activities. It is a November 2019 video of Zimbabwean police dispersing supporters of the main opposition political party.

    Full Text

    A video circulating on social media shows Police officers chasing and beating up men and women with batons. 

    “Zimbabwe Police dealing with the church that refused to take instructions of closing for Corona virus (Koro),” the caption of the video on Whatsapp reads.

    For a section of Ghanaians, churches who flout President Akufo-Addo’s directives on mass gatherings should suffer the same punishment.

    The President last week banned public gatherings and suspended schools in a bid to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, Covid-19.

    The video has been shared on several WhatsApp pages, on Instagram and on Twitter. Whatsapp users who shared it with Dubawa say it was also part of a news item by a popular television station.  

    Verification

    Yes, the video was taken in Zimbabwe. And yes, it shows Police using force and brutality against members of the public.

    However, it is neither related to the coronavirus nor to any religious activity or group. 

    A 2019 news report by Reuters explains that the incident occurred on November 20, 2019, and shows brutality meted on supporters of Zimbabwe’s main opposition political party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The supporters had gathered at their party headquarters to listen to a speech by their leader Nelson Chamisa on November 20, 2019.

    Additionally, news organisations including the Guardian news and Aljazeera also carried the story last year.

    To further verify, DUBAWA contacted Zimfact, a fact-checking platform in Zimbabwe. 

    “This was police breaking up opposition supporters, Nov 20, 2019,” Zimfact said.

  • Coronavirus: Ghana Confirms One death, Shuts All Borders

    With effect midnight Sunday, March 22, 2020, Ghana will close all its borders to human traffic. The closure, however, will not apply to goods, supplies and cargo. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in a televised address on Saturday disclosed that the move is to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus, Covid-19.

    “All our borders, that is, by land, sea and air, will be closed to human traffic for the next two weeks beginning midnight on Sunday,” he said.

    All travellers arriving in the country before midnight on Sunday will be required to undergo mandatory quarantine and Covid-19 testing.

    “Anybody who comes into the country before on Sunday will be mandatorily quarantined and tested for the virus,” President Nana Akufo-Addo added.

    Ghana’s Minister for Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, had earlier disclosed that travellers from high-risk countries with more than 200 cases of the Covid-19 would not be allowed into the country. The only exceptions were Ghanaian citizens and persons with Ghana residence permits.

    Confirmed cases

    Ghana’s index cases of the coronavirus were announced on March 12. 

    Twenty-one cases have been confirmed as at 21:15 GMT March 21. One death was announced by the president in his address. Existing cases are therefore currently 20.

    “Unfortunately one person who tested positive for the virus, but had serious underlying health complications, passed away in the early hours of today,” President Akufo-Addo said.

    He said all the others are responding to treatment. Eight of them are being managed from their homes in isolation.

  • Will drinking water and gargling with saline solution or vinegar eliminate the Coronavirus?

    A Facebook post suggests that drinking lots of water and gargling with warm water and salt or vinegar eliminates the coronavirus.

    The claim has not been corroborated by any health institution. The WHO says there is currently no specific treatment, drug or vaccine for the Covid-19, although some home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms.

    A viral Facebook post proffers yet another remedy for the new coronavirus, COVID-19. How? Simply drink lots of and gargle with warm water and salt or vinegar and you are good to go.

    DUBAWA looked into these claims and found no evidence to back them.

    Verification

    According to the World Health Organisation, the incubation period for Covid-19, that is, the period between contracting the virus and exhibiting symptoms ranges between one and 14 days. Symptoms however commonly appear after around five days.

    How does the virus work?

    The virus works by getting inside and taking over the cells of the body.  It first infects the cells lining the throat, airways and lungs and turns them into “coronavirus factories”. The “coronavirus factories” then spew out huge numbers of new viruses that go to infect more cells.

    Will gargling saline solution eliminate the virus?

    This claim has not been corroborated by any health institution. 

    Gargling may soothe a sore throat, a symptom of the new coronavirus. In fact, NHS recommends gargling with warm saline water for adults suffering from sore throats. However, there is no evidence that it kills the virus. The Covid-19, according to Chinese health workers, invades the respiratory tract and therefore cannot be cleaned gargling. 

    Indeed, the WHO, in its Q&A about coronavirus on twitter debunked a similar question of whether gargling mouthwash can protect one from COVID-19. 

    How about drinking lots of Water? Drinking a lot of water and staying hydrated is advised especially when one is unwell. However, it does not prevent coronavirus infection.

    Cures for the Covid-19?

    The Organisation says there is currently “no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-2019.” Clinical trials are however ongoing to find a solution to the disease.

    It adds that “some western, traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of COVID-19.”

    WHO’s standard recommendations to prevent infection spread of coronavirus 

    • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
    • Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
    • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
    • Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
    • Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
    • Stay informed and follow the advice given by your healthcare provider.
  • Drinking or using ‘akpeteshie’ as sanitiser will NOT kill the Coronavirus

    Since the first two cases of COVID-19 in Ghana were announced, prices of hand sanitizers have increased drastically. This is similar to situations across the world. Where the product has not run out, sellers are charging outrageous prices in order to make huge profits. In Ghana, a bottle of hand sanitizer that sold for 20 GHC or less just a few days ago is now being sold at around 80 GHC or more.

    Consequently, many speculations are being made on social media and other platforms. One of them is that local spirits, like akpeteshie, can be used in the absence of hand sanitizer. Others also claim that drinking alcohol, in this case, akpeteshie, will kill the coronavirus.

    we found both claims to be false.

    Beverages like ‘akpeteshie’, a local brewed spirit made from sugarcane or palm wine, can be used as a substitute for hand sanitizers. 

    Herbal and local gin bitters often do not meet the required alcohol content for an effective hand rub. Thus, they may not be good substitutes for hand sanitizers against the COVID-19.

    Verification

    The World Health Organisation and the Centre for Disease Control recommend the use of alcohol-based rubs with ethanol greater than 60 per cent for fighting the COVID-19.  Akpeteshie and other locally brewed gin on the market often do not meet this requirement.

    According to the Center for Plant Medicine Research, the alcohol percentage  of bitters on the market is often less than 45%. The WHO also says the standardized alcohol strength of ‘akpeteshie‘ is between 40 and 50% by volume. Therefore, local gin and other alcoholic beverages on the market may not be “viable substitute for hand rubbing”.

    “For a sanitiser to be effective in ridding the hands against the coronavirus, sanitisers must have 60-95% alcohol by volume,” a press statement from the CPMR said. “…alcohol content for bitters on the market is often less than 45%.”

    Dubawa also spoke to Mr Roger Ahiable, a Deputy Director of Pharmaceutical Services, Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital. He confirmed that, if akpeteshie contains an alcohol percentage less than the required 60-95 per cent, it will not be effective in killing the virus. He added that 70 per cent alcohol content shows optimum disinfectant activity.

    Highly concentrated alcohol, which may be useful substitutes, are often not found on the market. Some contain as high as 95 % alcohol and as low as 70% alcohol. Mr Ahiable noted that these beverages are usually diluted to prevent health complications and thus are rarely concentrated enough to serve as a disinfectant. He added that rubbing alcohol can be used as a substitute for hand sanitizers as some contain as high as 95 % alcohol and as low as 70% alcohol

    He cautioned that using very concentrated spirits on the hand can cause health issues. Dehydration of the skin, burning sensations on the skin and in some cases, hypersensitive reactions are some of them.   

    Drinking alcohol kills and prevents COVID-19

    Drinking akpeteshie will not kill the coronavirus. Excessive intake of alcohol can cause a range of diseases and thereby weaken your immunity against the coronavirus.

    Verification

    The WHO says drinking alcohol will not protect you from contracting the COVID-19. In fact, imbibing too much alcohol may affect your immunity against the virus.

    “No, drinking alcohol does not protect you from coronavirus infection. Alcohol should always be consumed in moderation and people who do not drink alcohol should not start drinking in an attempt to prevent the infection,” the WHO says.

    Mr Ahiable also added that drinking alcohol will not eliminate the virus.

    “Consumption of alcohol by mouth cannot disinfect viral colonies in the respiratory system,” he said. “We shouldn’t cause other systematic damages by alcohol consumption while trying to prevent infection. It is not wise. It will eventually damage the immune strength of the consumer.”

    Conclusion:

    Consumption of alcoholic beverages is not a preventive measure for the coronavirus. In addition, using alcoholic beverages does not guarantee the disinfection of the hands as various beverages have different alcohol volumes. It is important to check the alcohol content before opting to use such beverages as substitutes for hand sanitizers.

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