Residents of the small Ghanaian town of Tinga in the Bole district of Ghana’s northern region have raised concerns over Ebola transmission from illegal Guinean miners in their town.
Reports indicate that many Guineans, who have previously engaged in illegal gold prospecting in northern Ghana, have been returning to Ghana after selling their bounty in Guinea and elsewhere, causing great concern for residents of the town.
According to some of these residents and some health workers, large numbers of Guinean nationals arrive in Pinga and the surrounding settlements without any medical screening and move around freely interacting and trading with locals.
Guinea is among five West African countries battling the deadly disease that according to the World Health Organization (WHO) has claimed an estimated 1,900 lives in the sub-region.
"Once they are coming in, definitely we are all at risk", Cephas Ekpa, a community health worker at the Pinga Community Health Center told the press.
He said lack of proper checks at the borders coupled with the existence of several unapproved entry and exit points into and out of the country has exacerbated the situation and called on the government to tighten up the country's borders.
Director General of the Ghana Health Service, Ebenezer Appiah-Denkyira has meanwhile promised to immediately contact the immigration service to take action.
He also promised to dispatch protective gear and thermometers to the area as soon as possible to put the area in red-alert mode as well as directing disease control officers in the area to track the Guinean miners operating illegally for repatriation back to their country.
Meanwhile, some commentators have questioned the legality of expelling the Guinean miners in Ghana given the free movement policy instituted by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), to which Ghana and Guinea are members.
Under the policy, citizens of member countries may travel freely within the sub region without the stringent immigration procedures applied to citizens from other countries.
Others, however, point to special provisions established to prevent the spread of the Ebola pandemic, which gives member governments the leeway to not only close their borders, but also to take extra measures to protect their citizens from Ebola.