Include COVID-19 testing in ‘Yellow Card’ – GIS recommends

The Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) is advocating the inclusion of coronavirus (COVID-19) testing in the International Certificate of Vaccination otherwise known as ‘Yellow Card’ to strengthen health security.

Comptroller-General of Immigration (CGI), Mr Kwame Asuah Takyi made the call last Tuesday during a web-based seminar on the impact of the disease on the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) free movement protocol and the regional integration agenda.

It was organised by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) under the auspices of the European Union, ECOWAS Commission, and International Labour Organisation (ILO). 

According to Mr Takyi, the testing would help prevent, protect and contain the spread of COVID-19 across borders and avoid the interference with international traffic and trade.

He, however, advised that health clearance for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases must be strictly enforced as part of requirements for entry into member states.

Mr Takyi also bemoaned the nonexistence of health facilities at the various entry points of ECOWAS countries to cater for the health needs of border officials who were exposed to infectious diseases and other ever-changing health risks. 

“We need effective collaboration between border security agencies and health institutions to curtail the possible spread of infectious diseases across borders,” he added. 

The CGI called on member States to consider building the capacity of port health officials through a continuous training programme to strengthen health security in West Africa as part of the new paradigm shift post COVID-19.

As part of policy intervention, he urged countries to leverage on technology to install closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras along the borders for effective monitoring of movements of persons along the frontiers. 

The increased use of unapproved routes by migrants to enter the entry during border closures as part of COVID-19 directives, he said, has led to the identification of several unapproved routes of entry and exit. 

This, he noted, has been spurred on by the connivance of transport operators and border residents who aided travellers to cross borders illegally saying “tip-offs from border residents and the sharing of intelligence among border security agencies are therefore crucial to combating irregular migration and the fight against infectious diseases such as COVID-19.”

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