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US$150 COVID-19 tests at KIA a small price to pay for safety, says minister

Kotoka International Airport

Six cases of the coronavirus have been recorded at Kotoka International Airport since the facility was reopened last Tuesday.

According to the deputy health minister Bernard Okoe Boye, the infected people have since been isolated.

Speaking to the Accra-based Joy FM, he said the six cases were detected at the airport between Friday and Sunday.

The first case was detected on Friday, he said. Two more were detected on Saturday and three on Sunday.

Dr Okoe Boye emphasised the importance of the COVID-19 test at the airport and insisted that the six individuals had reported with negative PCR tests from their countries of origin.

Fair price for test 

The deputy health minister also defended the government’s decision to charge a fee of $150 for COVID-19 tests at Kotoka International Airport. This followed concerns, raised in some quarters, that the fee being charged was too high and should be reduced. 

Dr Okoe Boye maintained that the technology being used by Ghana is one of the best and is the reason why even people with negative PCR tests can still be detected if they are carrying the virus.

“All our troubles in Ghana started with just about four or five cases. So, those who are talking about $150: if we had gone for a compromised technology and those with negative PCR tests had slipped in, [or someone] who is positive with a viral load visits us in this country … we [would be] back to a lockdown,” he told Joy News.

“I always say that the alternative – that is, having one person slip in with the virus – is so serious and too grave to contemplate. Remember that we didn’t go in for the product and the price, smiling and all excited.”

Cost-effective approach

Dr Okoe Boye stressed that the tests being conducted at the airport save time and money compared to the previous method of handling passengers. 

He cited bussing of travellers to hotels and having them pay for their stay for two weeks as a more expensive approach.

“When KLM arrived at the airport on 1 September, they were supposed to use the previous arrangement, which was two weeks’ quarantine. All of them had paid for hotel bills but there were over 50 passengers who [opted] to pay $150 because they had negative PCR tests,’’ he said. 

“For them, time is too expensive to spend two weeks in a hotel watching TV,” he said.

E A Alanore

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