Global cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, causing havoc to several economies. So far, Ghana has recorded 48,643 confirmed cases with 320 associated deaths. Although summaries of data are usually provided by the Ministry of Health, detailed epidemiological profile of cases are limited. This study sought to describe the socio-demographic features, pattern of COVID-19 spread and the viral load dynamics among subjects residing in northern, middle and part of the southern belt of Ghana.
This was a cross-sectional retrospective study that reviewed records of samples collected from February to July, 2020. Respiratory specimens such as sputum, deep-cough saliva and nasopharyngeal swabs were collected from suspected COVID-19 subjects in 12 regions of Ghana for laboratory analysis and confirmation by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).
A total of 72,434 samples were collected during the review period, with majority of the sampled individuals being females (37,464; 51.9%). The prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 identified in the study population was 13.2% [95%CI: 12.9, 13.4). Males were mostly infected (4,897; 51.5%) compared to females. Individuals between the ages 21–30 years recorded the highest number of infections (3,144, 33.4%). Symptomatic subjects had higher viral loads (1479.7 copies/μl; IQR = 40.6–178919) than asymptomatic subjects (49.9; IQR = 5.5–3641.6). There was significant association between gender or age and infection with SARS-CoV-2 (p<0.05). Among all the suspected clinical presentations, anosmia was the strongest predictor of SARS-CoV-2 infection (Adj. OR (95%CI): 24.39 (20.18, 29.49). We observed an average reproductive number of 1.36 with a minimum of 1.28 and maximum of 1.43. The virus trajectory shows a gradual reduction of the virus reproductive number.
This study has described the epidemiological profile of COVID-19 cases in northern, middle and part of the southern belt of Ghana, with males and younger individuals at greater risk of contracting the disease. Health professionals should be conscious of individuals presenting with anosmia since this was seen as the strongest predictor of virus infection.