Travellers arriving in Ghana by air following the reopening of the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) are expected to pay US$150 for a COVID-19 test as part of measures to control the spread of the Coronavirus in the country.
The mandatory testing of all passengers arriving in the country effective Tuesday, September 1, forms part of directives outlined by the Ministry of Aviation and Health to prevent the importation of the disease into the country.
Speaking at a press briefing in Accra on Monday, the Managing Director of the Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL), Mr Yaw Kwakwa said the accuracy of the testing was around 99 to 100 per cent.
Mr Kwakwa described the specificity and turnaround time of the test as convenient saying, “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.”
Justifying the US$150 charge for the COVID-19 test, a Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Benard Oko-Boye said the amount was 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 such as Zimbabwe, China and Togo.
“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,” he explained.
“Here at the airport, we are interested in two things; the test must be very specific and sensitive which means it must tell us if you have the virus and if it says it is 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 added.
The Deputy Minister also added that a percentage of the revenue generated from the testing would go into the development and maintenance of the airport.
The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye said for Ghanaians who travel outside the country and return in less than a week of within a week will be exempted from having a negative PCR test results.
He said travellers who test positive upon arrival in Ghana would be taken to the Ga East Municipal Hospital for treatment.
“For arriving passengers, as mentioned earlier, you must have a negative PCR test result of at most 72-hours before you enter the country. Ghanaians who travel for meetings and return in less than a week or within a week will be exempted from having a negative PCR test results.
Persons who get down in Ghana and test positive, port health officials will take over and assist you through immigration to prevent any further contamination and there is a holding room you will be sent to and your items will be sent to you and then all of them will be sent to the Ga East Hospital,” he said.
Easing of restrictions
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in his 16th address to the nation last Sunday announced the further easing of restrictions on movement imposed to contain the spread of the virus.
He announced that the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) would be opened to international traffic from Tuesday, September 1, amid strict measures to ensure the safety of passengers and workers at the airport.
Outlining the measures taken by the managers of the KIA, the Managing Director of the Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL), Mr Yaw Kwakwa, said there would be a strict enforcement of the wearing of facemask within the facility and among passengers.
“When someone arrives in Ghana, it is mandatory for any airline coming arriving in Ghana ensures that passengers have facemask on. But we know that some of our people will be coming from afar…and so when you land at KIA and you come through the passenger boarding gate, we’ll give you a fresh face mask,” he said.
“By the way, the test is going to be at the expense of each passenger. At the cost of US$150,” he added.
Other measures announced by Mr Kwakwa included the provision of sanitation stations at vantage, regular disinfection of the facility, as well as the enforcement of social distancing among workers and travellers.
“Because of social distancing, people will be limited form entering the airport and therefore if you do not have any business at the airport, you will not be allowed in,” he said.
He added that pets would not be allowed to accompany their owners anymore.
Mr Kwakwa also encouraged travellers to make use of the online check-in process to reduce congestion at the airport and further urged travellers to arrive four hours before their scheduled flights.