The government says all travellers coming to Ghana by air are supposed to pay $150 (¢868) for Covid-19 testing. The revelation follows the reopening of the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) to international passenger traffic after five months of closure.
Mandatory testing, which is to be conducted for all passengers coming into the country forms part of directives outlined by the Ministry of Aviation and Health to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus and ensure that the deadly disease is not imported into the country.
Speaking during a press conference to update the nation on measures taken ahead of the reopening of the airport on September 1, the Managing Director of the Ghana Airports Company Limited, Yaw Kwakwa said the accuracy of the test is around 99 to 100 per cent.
“It takes a maximum of 30 minutes for a particular passenger to go through the entire process and get his or her results. This system is so convenient that passengers will practically go through our terminal building with only a fraction of time added to what they used to do before,” he added.
He also stated that with the help of a service provider, the various measures that have been put in place will ensure that passengers go through the protocols smoothly.
“It is mandatory for any airline coming to Ghana to ensure that passengers have a face mask on but we know that some of our people will be travelling from afar. When you are coming from London, you will probably travel like six hours and so when you land at the KIA and you come through the passenger door and get to the edge of the terminal building, we will give you a fresh face mask.”
“There is a service provider that we are using to do all of this. So we give you the face mask and you start going through the process. When you enter you go to the far end of the upper part of arrivals and you queue to go through the testing centre. But one convenience is that there is no country that you can go through the process and be able to get the results within 30 minutes and if you are negative the health professionals take over from there,” he said
Defending the $150 fee for the testing, the Deputy Minister for Health Dr Benard Oko-Boye described it as a good bargain since “nothing is more expensive than contracting Covid-19 itself”. He also argued that the decision was taken after assessing charges by other countries.https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
“The cost of the test will not put unnecessary difficulty or burden on the passenger. We looked at what is being charged across the globe so when you go to a place like Zimbabwe you pay about $210 for a test.
“In China, you pay about $150 for a test and they are even doing PCR which is a very good test that identifies the virus itself. But in China after paying $150 you have to wait for about 6 hours average before you get results. Also remember that anyone coming into Ghana must have a negative PCR test and on the average, in Europe, if you enter a lab to do that, it is about 100 euros.
“Here at the airport, we are interested in two things; the test must be very specific and sensitize which means it must tell us if you have the virus and if it says it’s negative then you pose no threat to Ghanaians.”
“We were also interested in how long it takes to get the results. And with these two indicators, we now had to decide whether $150 dollars of having the two most important requirements met is reasonable or not,” he pointed out.
The Deputy Minister also added that a percentage of the revenue generated from the testing will go into the development and maintenance of the airport.
The guidelines include;
- Any passenger arriving in Ghana must be in possession of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result from an accredited laboratory in the country of origin. The test should have been done not more than seventy-two (72) hours before the scheduled departure from the country of origin. All airlines have been instructed to ensure compliance with this directive for all passengers wishing to travel to Ghana, and those airlines who fail in this regard will be duly sanctioned;
- Disembarking passengers must do so wearing face masks;
- Upon disembarking from the aeroplane, each passenger will undergo a mandatory COVID-19 test at the airport terminal, at a fee to be borne by the passenger. The test result will be available within thirty (30) minutes;
- Children under the ages of five (5) will not be required to undergo testing at the airport
- Again passengers, who test positive for COVID-19, will be handled by the health authorities for further clinical assessment and management;
- All passengers, who test negative, can, thereupon, enter Ghana to go about their lawful activities, and will be advised to continue to observe COVID-19 safety precautions during their stay in Ghana.
Ghana’s air, sea and land borders were closed on Sunday, March 22, 2020, following an order by President Akufo-Addo as part of efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the country. At the time, the country had only recorded 21 cases of the novel disease.
The initial closure was to last for two weeks, according to President Nana Akufo-Addo but was extended.
In announcing the closure, the President said: “All our borders; by land, sea and air, will be closed to human traffic for the next two weeks beginning midnight on Sunday, March 22, 2020”. The closure did not apply to goods, supplies and cargo.
Meanwhile, the country’s sea and land boarders remain closed.