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Ghana universities close but Covid-19 science carries on

Image: Rjruiziii [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Labs are open and morale is high, says researcher sequencing viral strains

The immediate closure of all universities in Ghana was announced by president Nana Akufo-Addo last Sunday. It’s part of a raft of government measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, the respiratory disease spreading around the world.

But biomedical researchers at the University of Ghana’s West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens are still going to work. They are collaborating with colleagues at the country’s Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research to isolate and sequence viral DNA from the country’s Covid-19 patients. 

“All classes are cancelled but graduate students are all still around,” said Yaw Bediako, an immunologist at WACCBIP, in a Whatsapp exchange with Research Professional. The lab is open and working to sequence the SARS-Cov-2 virus from local isolates, he said. “Morale is high. Sequencing should be done by Thursday or Friday.”

Ghana joins a number of countries that are busy sequencing viral strains to contribute to a global effort to understand how SARS-Cov-2 is mutating and spreading. Nigeria was the first African country to publish a sequence earlier this month. South Africa is expected to publish genomes this week.

Ghana recorded its first Covid-19 case on 12 March. A week later, as this article went live, the tally had grown to nine.