Are Ghana’s Active COVID-19 Cases Declining?

The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr. Patrick Aboagye, claims that the number of active COVID-19 cases in Ghana is declining.

Dr. Aboagye made the claim at a press briefing on Sunday July 19, 2020, in Accra, where he urged Ghanaians to focus on the declining active cases rather than the cumulative positive case count in assessing how well the country was doing in managing the pandemic in the country.

“We normally don’t focus on the cumulative positive count because the majority of them have already recovered. But the more important indicator is the active cases. In Ghana today the active case trend is declining and this is very good news. Our target is to keep it declining,” he said at the presser streamed live on the Ministry of Information’s Facebook page. [20mins – 30mins]

Fact-checkghana.com finds this claim to be mostly false.

Explanation: Ghana has been fighting COVID-19 since March 12, 2020 when it recorded its first two cases.

As of 2pm on July 19, 2020 when Dr. Patrick Aboagye made the claim, Ghana had recorded 27,060 confirmed cases of COVID-19. 23,044 had recovered/been discharged while 145 were reported to have died. The active cases were 3,871.

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has been giving updates daily updates on the country’s case count on its website and posts them on its Twitter handle as well.

Active cases refer to the number of cases that are at any particular point in time being handled or still under treatment.

It can be calculated by subtracting the number of cases that have died and the cases that have recovered from the cumulative number of confirmed cases.

In fact-checking the claim that Ghana’s active cases are declining, we gathered the data on the Ghana Health Service’s website on COVID-19 case management from June 19 to July 19, 2020 (the last 30 days).

The data is presented in the table below:

Fig. 1

The data features all case management updates announced on the Ghana Health Service (GHS) website and the figures announced by the Ghana Health Service at the bi-weekly press briefings.

NB: Duplicated dates are indicative of an earlier announcement at the press briefing and another announcement later that same day on the Ghana Health Service (GHS) website.

We subsequently visualized the data in a graph to monitor its progress trend.

 

The graph below shows the active cases trend since June 1, 2020.

Based on the above information, we note that although there were some instances in the daily case updates where the number of active cases declined, there were equally significant number of days where the number of active cases increased.

Assessing this as a trend, and whether one looks at it over the last 7 days or 30 days, it cannot be emphatically said that the number of active cases is declining since there is a fair mix of an increase and decrease.

In fact, on the day the claim was made [July 19] and the previous day [July 18], the data shows that the active cases rather increased.

This fluctuation, as seen in the line graph does not in any way suggest a decline.

We therefore find the claim to be mostly false.

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Supported by STAR Ghana Foundation with funding from UKAID and the European Union

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