USD150 coronavirus testing fee at Ghana's Airport: Ghanaians abroad are worried

Coronavirus Test Postive  554 Coronavirus test. File photo

Wed, 4 Nov 2020 Source: Stephen Atta Owusu

When COVID-19 was first documented in China, many countries and governments did not take the pandemic seriously. Travellers from Asia and other countries were not screened for Coronavirus at destination airports.

So those who had the virus took it to the destination countries. Ghana suffered a similar fate.

The disease entered Ghana due to negligence at the airport and other entry points. The government took a quick decision, after the virus had entered Ghana, and ordered the airport and all borders with neighbouring countries closed.

Before the closure, all passengers arriving were quarantined for two weeks. An excellent job concerning testing, screening and healing has gone on at Noguchi and other health facilities.

After a two-week lockdown, social distancing, the use of sanitizers and face masks were compulsorily observed. Active cases of COVID-19 continued to reduce daily.

As at 24th October 2020, the number of the active cases for COVID-19 stood at 535. The infection rate went down drastically. But it is feared the figures may go up in Ghana and other parts of the world.

President Akufo-Addo and his government have tackled Covid-19 with seriousness and precision. More patients recovered and those who lost their lives are few. Ghana has been much praised throughout the world for an effective Covid-19 strategy.

Ghana is one country in Africa that has worked hard to control the spread of Covid-19 in Ghana. One particular person who is full of praise for Ghana is author and research fellow at New York University, adjunct assistant professor, Nana Kofi Quakyi, who heralded Ghana’s handling of Coronavirus as a success story.

On the 28th March 2020, Ghana became the first country in Africa to apply lockdown. Nana Addo is eager to bring Ghana's economy back to life.

A few weeks ago, Nana Addo re-opened Kotoka International Airport (KIA) for international passengers after five months of closure. He implemented a policy for all passengers arriving at KIA to be tested for coronavirus at a fee of 150 dollars and another 150 dollars when departing from Ghana. Ghanaians abroad became peeved, confused and angry because when they compare the testing fees charged at other airports, Ghana’s is too much on the higher side.

As part of the directives by the Minister of Aviation and Health to curb the spread of coronavirus, mandatory testing would be conducted for all passengers entering Ghana. Mr Yaw Kwakwa, the Managing director of Ghana Airport Company Ltd., assured Ghanaians and all international passengers that the accuracy of the test was between 99 and 100 percent.

The Minister assured Ghanaians and all passengers that it would take a maximum of 30 minutes for a particular passenger to go through the process and get his or her results.

The amount to be paid at the airport was widely known throughout the world. It was published on all Ghanaian websites and all embassies abroad gave adequate information about the Covid-19 testing fees to be charged at KIA.

The rules stipulated that one was to obtain a certificate indicating that one had done a virus test that was negative within 72 hours before boarding a Ghana bound flight.

What is baffling is that why, on arrival in Ghana, you would be tested again even though you showed a certificate to prove that you had no virus. But airports in the West did not require you to take another test on arrival.

When you take the test in Finland, where I am, it costs 250 euros and when you add it to the 150 dollars you pay to enter Ghana and another 150 dollars when you leave Ghana, you would be paying too high a price just for Covid tests for a return flight to Ghana.

Let us know if you pay a similar amount for Covid-19 test in the country where you are.

My question is, why did Nana Addo refuse to give the Covid-19 contract to Noguchi who were going to charge only 50 dollars, but rather preferred to give it to a Nigerian company which charged a whopping 150 dollars two times?.

Beloved reader, doesn't the deal look fishy? Besides they employed staff from Noguchi. Aye huuhuuhu.

Even though Ghanaians abroad are not happy about the amount involved, it has come to stay.

Sadly, some Ghanaians abroad who travel to Ghana do not prepare well before boarding the plane.

They are able to pay for Covid-19 test fee in their countries of residence but when they arrive in Ghana some of them pretend they don't have money to pay for the second test.

My advice to all Ghanaians is that if you don't have enough money to pay for the test, don't dare to travel to Ghana. Those who could not pay, even the sick or pregnant, are kept on bare floors where they are fed once a day.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Columnist: Stephen Atta Owusu
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