The Director of the Port Health Unit of the Ghana Health Service at the Tema Port, Raphael John Marfo, has expressed the need for the nation to tread cautiously with respect to easing of COVID-19 restrictions such as the reopening of the land borders.
He said it is vital to be effectively systematic with procedures towards the easing of restrictions in spite of the yearn to embark on increased intra-continental trading in the AfCFTA.
“You know the porousity of our borders. Until we put all the measures in place, it will not be prudent to reopen our land borders, for now. We are trying to make sure that all stakeholders would be in sync with all the protocols we are putting in place,” he expressed.
Speaking on Eye On Port on the Effect of Rising Cases of COVID-19 on Ports and Trade, the Director of Port Health at the Tema Port, revealed that the various health directorates across the country, as part of the public health response plan are embarking on exercises to engage stakeholders at the various entry points to help implement measures that would avoid any spread of the virus across the entry points of the country.
“At most of the ground crossings, we are identifying health facilities where they would have to directly report to if there are any health risks, at the borders,” he said.
He said measures are being put in place, such as “line listing” that would ensure that when the borders are opened, travellers that may come through the entry points of the country would be registered in a database to enhance traceability.
“Line listing is where the transport operators, for example, STC coming from Lome, will have to provide a line list of all the travellers on-board including the origin as well as specific destination and contact addresses. This will help in-country surveillance,” he explained.
The Director of Port Health Unit of the Ghana Health Service at the Tema Port, Raphael John Marfo said until these measures have been well coordinated and implemented, it would be risky to reopen the land borders for human traffic.
Raphael John Marfo revealed that even though the human traffic through the sea ports is basically limited to crew of cargo vessels, since May of 2020, the authorities have implemented strict crew change procedures, and this will be further intensified as far as the virus remains existent.
Also speaking on the same program, Gideon Lamptey, who is a Senior Medical Laboratory Officer, at GPHA explained that while it may seem like there has been a declined vigilance among the public nationwide, the compliance level at the Port to the COVID-19 health protocols remain high.
He revealed that sample taking exercises at the ports during the docking of vessels awaiting discharge and/or crew change have intensified.
“There is a protocol in place that ensures that all crew changes that happen at our ports have undergone screening. Those handing over and those coming to take over,” he said.