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COVID-19: Airlines to pay $3,500 fine per passenger if…

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COVID-19: Airlines to pay $3,500 fine per passenger if... 1
Kojo Oppong Nkrumah
Kojo Oppong Nkrumah

Airlines that embark and disembark passengers at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) without evidence of negative coronavirus disease (COVID-19) PCR tests will be fined $3,500 per each offending passenger.

Airlines that bring in passengers with positive COVID-19 test results will also be fined the same amount.

The measure, which takes immediate effect, forms part of adjustments the government has made to the National COVID-19 Operational Guidelines at the KIA.

Taking his turn at the Minister’s press briefing, in Accra yesterday, the Minister-designate for Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, said henceforth, foreigners, who arrive in the country and test positive at the airport, would bear the cost of treatment themselves.

He said hitherto, all the treatment costs of arriving passengers were borne by the government.

“From now, all Ghanaians who depart and return to the country within one week will no longer be required to present a PCR negative COVID-19 test. However, they will be expected to undergo mandatory testing at the airport and other subsequent management arrangements in place based on the outcome of the results,” the Minister-designate added.

He said apart from the above changes, all existing guidelines were still in force.

He said transiting passengers would, however, not be required to take the COVID-19 test in Accra; rather, they would be required to adhere to the COVID-19 testing requirements of their destination countries.

He also said airline crew members were exempted from taking the COVID-19 test in Accra but were expected to abide by the peculiar arrangements made for them.

He said passengers, who arrive under emergency circumstances, such as diverted flights, will not be required to take the test if they did not leave the airport.

Tests at KIA

According to the Ghana Health Service (GHS), before January 2021, the national burden was less than a 1,000, but due to non-compliance with the safety protocols and the spread of the mutated UK variant, active cases had now risen to 6,707.

A total of 810,040 tests had been conducted, of which 250,238 were from routine surveillance, 403,120 from contact tracing, while 156,682 were from international travellers arriving through the KIA, the GHS said.

Background

Ghana’s air, sea and land borders were first closed on Sunday, March 22, 2020, following an order by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as part of efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

The President had, on Sunday, August 30, announced the resumption of operations at the KIA on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 under certain strict guidelines.

Under the measures, every passenger disembarking at the KIA was required to wear a face mask, possess proof of a negative PCR coronavirus test from an accredited laboratory on arrival, as well as undergo a mandatory COVID-19 test.

The test was to be done not more than 72 hours before the scheduled departure from the country of origin. All airlines were also instructed to ensure compliance with the directive for passengers travelling to Ghana.

The cost of the test was to be borne by the passenger and the test results made available within 30 minutes. However, children aged five and below were not required to undergo testing at the airport.

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