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Working on COVID-19 cases critical but not scary – Doctor shares experience

Dr Kofi Annor Diawuo Sarfo
Dr Kofi Annor Diawuo Sarfo

A doctor at the University of Ghana Medical Centre, Dr Kofi Annor Diawuo Sarfo, who handled one of the first cases of COVID-19 infection in the country has described the experience as ‘’critical but not scary.’’

“Of course, I was nervous when I was called to handle the first case at the facility, but my nervousness quickly gave way to a sense of duty when I realised that the patient was depending on my intervention to overcome the condition.

Dr Sarfo was sharing his experience with the Daily Graphic in an interview. He said when he was asked to handle the first case that was reported to the health facility, he considered his role as a duty rather than a challenge.


He said the patient had returned from the United States of America (USA) with the known symptoms of coughing, shortness of breath and headache and he was called to check the patient and take a sample from him for testing.

“Even though health staff had been briefed about the disease, I was not expecting the facility to receive a patient that soon. I was inwardly reminded of the Hippocratic oath and responded to duty immediately.

“As doctors, the Hippocratic oath that we take enjoins us among other things to treat the ill to the best of one’s ability and to preserve a patient’s privacy and I had to go by that,” he said.


That notwithstanding, Dr Sarfo said he was concerned about not having enough information about the patient as he prepared to meet him.

“I was wondering the kind of state the patient was in and whether he had underlying conditions which would help inform us on the decisions to take.

“I was also personally concerned about my safety, but as I went through the process of donning an overall and other additional items forming my personal protective equipment (PPE), I was ready to meet the patient.

“Interestingly, the patient was also very worried and afraid so how I reacted in his presence was important. We went through the processes and he recovered eventually and has been discharged,” Dr Sarfo said.

He also indicated that the first suspected case that came to the facility, which incidentally he also had to handle turned out to be negative.

Dr Sarfo has since gone ahead as a member of the medical team, to treat a number of confirmed cases brought to the facility for treatment.

Duty calls

He said he believed that many doctors were ready to offer their services but were rightly concerned about their personal safety. He added that he was hopeful that enough personal protective equipment (PPE) would be given to the health sector to give health workers the needed confidence to discharge their duties.

“I don’t believe that some doctors are reluctant to treat patients with COVID-19. It all has to do with their safety; not contracting the virus in their line of duty as has happened in other parts of the world. If PPE are provided, then we can all go about our duties feeling safe and assured that we are well protected,” he said.

According to Dr Sarfo, while it was important for doctors in particular and all health workers in general to be concerned about their safety in the discharge of their duty, it was also necessary for them to bear in mind that they owed it a duty to provide help and relief to people who were sick and needed medical care.

He said the COVID-19 situation had given him the opportunity to gain more experience in handling such infectious diseases.

“It is a challenging time, but I also see it as an opportunity to serve and learn on the job and I’m happy that I’m working with a professional team that is experienced and enthusiastic and willing to also make the most of the situation at hand and to learn.”