The Minority in Parliament has urged the government to put in stringent measures to curb the increasing number of COVID-19-positive arrivals at the Kotoka International Airport.
It follows a warning by Frontiers Health Services, managers of Ghana’s COVID-19 airport testing programme, that record numbers are being confirmed at the entry point.
The company, in a letter to the Managing Director of Ghana Airports Company Limited, Yaw Kwakwa, said on Saturday, April 24, 2021, that it recorded 75 positive cases, which is the highest daily number of positive COVID-19 cases at the airport.
This precedes the previous highest rate of 45 cases.
The company appealed to stakeholders to implement stringent measures on the quality of PCR results acceptable for entry into the country.
Adding its voice to the concerns raised by Frontiers Health Services, the Minority, in a statement signed by Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, Ranking Member on the Health Committee of Parliament and MP for Juaboso, said: “This clearly raises three pertinent issues: The first has to do with the authenticity of the PCR test results carried by infected travellers coming into the country, second the safety protocols instituted at the various airports travellers may have used before arriving in the country and third our own measures to ensure the safety of immigration and other officials working at KIA”.
Read the full statement below:
MINORITY IN PARLIAMENT’S PRESS STATEMENT ON THE INFLUX OF POSITIVE COVID-19 CASES AT THE KOTOKA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT.
Our attention has been drawn to the alarming increase of positive COVID-19 cases arriving in the country over the past week at the Kotoka International Airport.
This news is alarming since we all know that our current struggles with COVID-19 started with two index patients coming through the same airport on the 12th of March last year.
Since then, several protocols have been instituted to reduce the probability of infections and keep Ghanaians safe. Key amongst them is the travel guideline which includes two compulsory COVID-19 tests – a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test at the country of origin and a $150 antigen test on arrival at the Kotoka International airport – before travellers are allowed into the country.
However, information we have gathered so far indicates that on the 24th of April, an all-time high of 75 travellers tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 at the airport.
This, coming as a 67% jump on the previous all-time high of 45 cases recorded on the 21st of April last week, shows an exponential upward trajectory in terms of the positivity rate amongst travellers arriving at Kotoka.
This clearly raises three pertinent issues: The first has to do with the authenticity of the PCR test results carried by infected travellers coming into the country, second the safety protocols instituted at the various airports travellers may have used before arriving in the country and third our own measures to ensure the safety of immigration and other officials working at KIA.
The government must double its efforts to address these issues. First, a determination must be made on how so many travellers are able to pass through the first screen procedure of a PCR test at their country of origin and land in Ghana having a COVID infection. This may indicate either poor tests or fake results.
And in that regard, it is encouraging, although late, that government has issued a directive to have all PCR test results of arriving travellers digitally verified to reduce the probability of travellers arriving with fake COVID-19 test certificates.
But the government should also consider a careful examination of the data and where necessary impose travel restrictions from regions that have travellers presenting fake or poor test results.
The government should also consider travel restrictions on countries currently experiencing high COVID-19 infection rates to reduce the possibility of importing COVID-19 infections into the country. Some countries have already implemented these measures and Ghana should also consider doing same.
Ghanaians have endured many losses in terms of lives, resources, lost opportunities with the economy taking a hit resulting in one of its lowest growth rates since the inception of the 4th republic.
Restrictions on movement; the organisation of social events such as funerals, weddings and parties; and the requirement to wear personal protective equipment such as nose masks and face shields in public places.
After all these sacrifices, the current situation at the airport may be heralding a disaster of unimaginable proportions if not addressed. It is therefore incumbent on government to take its responsibility at the airport more seriously and as a matter of urgency, implement enhanced measures to better control the importation of COVID cases.
Kwabena Mintah Akandoh (MP)
(Ranking Member on the Health Committee of Parliament & MP for Juaboso)