Deputy Health Minister, Dr. Bernard Okoe Boye has called on travelers coming to Ghana to cooperate and pay the 150-dollar fee for the mandatory COVID-19 test.
Government has, as a result of the reopening of the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), adopted new measures to ensure the flight passengers as well as Ghanaians are safe from the virus infection.
President Nana Akufo-Addo, in his 16th nation address, outlined the measures saying ''it has been well-established that the very first cases of COVID-19 in Ghana were imported into our shores. We are determined to make sure this scenario does not recur. The commitment to ensuring that the gradual easing of restrictions, including the reopening of our airports, does not lead to the importation or resurgence of the virus into our country, is firmly in place. That is why the following measures have been taken and duly communicated to airlines wishing to resume flights to Ghana:
1. 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.
2. disembarking passengers must do so wearing face masks;
3. 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;
4. children under the ages of five (5) will not be required to undergo testing at the airport;
5. passengers, who test positive for COVID-19, will be handled by the health authorities for further clinical assessment and management; and
6. 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.
The passengers are also mandated to pay a fee of 150 dollars to undergo the test.
The rapid antigen test result is said to come within 30 minutes.
But some critics have raised objections to the fee payment saying the amount is exorbitant and called on the government to reduce it.
Dr. Okoe Boye's assertions
To Dr. Okoe Boye, although the amount seems high, it is necessary looking at the cost involved in the antigen test.
He explained that the antigen test is a specialized test which comes with its own technology, revealing that the initial pricing was 158 dollars but government negotiated for $150.
He further explained on Peace FM's "Kokrokoo" that when you compare the amount to the previous arrangements where passengers were put under mandatory quarantine in a hotel and charged for the hotel expenses, the 150 dollars is far affordable.
He added that the first batch of passengers who arrived in the country following the airport reopening attested to the fact that the fee payment is less costly and better than lodging in a hotel, hence giving their consent to the government to continue the new arrangements.
"50 passengers on a KLM flight subjected themselves to the antigen test and they were all negative. When they became negative, after consultations, we said well, this is the new arrangement. They've passed it. They went home."
Dr. Okoe Boye asked to revert to the old arrangments of mandatorily quarantining travelers in a hotel for them to pay for their accommodation, food and every other expense if they think the test fee at the airport is expensive.
"Okoe Boye is not saying that 150 dollars is no money but when you bring everything together, you can see that the opportunity cost, the alternative to this arrangement is so expensive and takes away your time such that because the accuracy and the time, the speed; you're more or less compelled to take it," he said.