Travellers to Ghana to pay $150 for COVID-19 testing
The government has announced a $150 (GHc 868) charge as COVID-19 testing fee for travellers who will be coming into the country through the airport.
It follows the reopening of the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) to passenger traffic after five months of closure due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
The mandatory testing, which is to be conducted for all passengers coming into the country, forms part of directives outlined by the Ministries of Aviation and Health to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The move is also part of efforts to ensure the disease is not imported into the country.
The Managing Director of the Ghana Airports Company Limited, Yaw Kwakwa, told the media at a news conference ahead of the September 1 airport reopening that the accuracy of the testing was between 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, however, assured of a smooth process for all travellers who arrive at the country’s international airport, Kotoka.
According to Mr Kwakwa, the face mask of every passenger who arrives in the country will be changed the moment they land.
“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.
Government defends $150 charge
The Deputy Minister of Health, Dr. Okoe Boye, has mounted a spirited defence of government’s $150 as COVID-19 testing fee.
He described it as a good bargain adding “nothing is more expensive than contracting Covid-19 itself”.
According to the Ledzokuku MP, the government arrived at the charge after carefully assessing that of other countries.
“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.
He continued his defence stating “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.”
Dr. Okoe Boye said a fraction of the revenue generated from the testing would go into the development and maintenance of the airport.
Meanwhile, President Akufo-Addo, in his 16th address to the nation on measures taken to control the spread of coronavirus, maintained that the country’s borders sea and land borders remain closed until further notice.