The Director for Public Health at the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Franklin Asiedu-Bekoe, has revealed that his outfit may likely not engage in COVID-19 testing at the country’s borders should government ease its land border restrictions.
He indicated that one critical thing the Service will be looking out for is the possession of vaccination cards by persons who desire to enter the country. Dr Aseidu-Bekoe explained that the vaccination card will be the main tool to enable one cross the borders. The GHS Public Health Director posited that to ensure its compliance at the land borders, personnel from the immigration and national security, who are stationed at the borders will be required to ensure its complaince.
“If we are going to be easing, we are not likely to be testing at the borders. We are going to be looking for your possession of a vaccination card or vaccination identity. So, that is what we are going to be inspecting on the borders… So, clearly, those are the things that we are considering. Unlike the airport that we will be testing, we will be looking at your possession of a vaccination card. These are early days yet and that is what we think will be the game changer if we need to open the borders”.Dr Franklin Asiedu-Bekoe
His comments followed Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah’s hint that President Akufo-Addo is set to ease restrictions at Ghana’s land borders.
Commenting on the cases in other neighbouring countries and whether the GHS is mindful of its impact on the country should government ease land border restrictions, Dr Asiedu-Bekoe intimated that considering the trend of cases in other countries, it wouldn’t pose a threat to Ghana’s safety. He highlighted that what should be considered instead are the modalities for easing restrictions. This, Dr Asiedu-Bekoe noted, must be about vaccination since it offers some level of protection and that is what “we want to focus on”.
“So, if you look at the curves in ECOWAS, you normally have this ECOWAS meetings every Tuesday. The shape of the curve is the same in all the neighbouring countries. So, the burden of the disease in our neighbouring countries is about the same as Ghana. So, there’s very little effect if we decide to open the borders. I think that unlike before that people were not testing, now we think that the case burdens on both sides of the borders are about fine. So, I think we can decide to ease… So, even if we decide to ease, we should have a borderline of being vaccinated before you cross borders”.Dr Franklin Asiedu-Bekoe
Currently, the number of Ghana’s active cases stands at 74, with new cases totalling 7. Touching on what the data means for the country, Dr Asiedu-Bekoe intimated that the data as at now is about the “best data” the country has had for the past two years. He however noted that although Ghana has hovered around such low figures in the past, the advent of new variants had caused a surge in positive cases.
“The only differencing factor is that now, we have vaccines. So, prior to this period, we were not having vaccines so people were not vaccinated. As I speak, I will say that about 25% of Ghanaians are fully vaccinated. So, there’s some level of protection so I think it’s quite right if we try to do the easing while we try to manage it. So, we are at the best time to do some easing but we still want to be very cautious”.Dr Franklin Asiedu-Bekoe