The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey says the difficulty for government in finding relatively smaller hotels who are willing to open their facilities to be used as isolation centres for Ghanaians who have been evacuated from foreign countries has contributed to the high cost of hotel bills for evacuees.
“It is difficult to get hotels that can be used for quarantine. It is a major problem. It is the ones that have agreed to be used that are currently being used,” she said.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent closure of borders by several countries including Ghana has caused some citizens of the country to be stranded in foreign countries.
Government heeding to calls to the stranded Ghanaians over the past week has been conducting an evacuation exercise which according to the minister has so far seen about 856 Ghanaians brought back home.
However, besides the minimum $700 flight cost the evacuees have had to bear, they are also required to pay GHC500 minimum daily for their 14-day mandatory isolation in designated hotels. This according to some critics and some of the stranded Ghanaians is expensive.
But answering a question on the cost, the Foreign Affairs Minister said there exists the challenge of finding hotels with the right logistics besides their willingness to give up their facilities for the exercise.
“The second issue that we have is that even if a small hotel agrees to be part of this, the problem would be that you will have a hotel or guest with ten rooms, seven rooms, five rooms, and the logistics to make sure that the health professionals are able to visit them as they normally would be a problem. Also, the security services would have to be posted at these quarantine centers and that would also be a problem. So we are always looking for larger hotels that will be able to cater for large numbers to make it easier for us,” she said.
She however indicated that the government remains committed to making sure every stranded Ghanaian is brought home safely while indicating that there are plans to ensure the cost on evacuees are reduced from the current state.
She also called on hotels to help the exercise by giving up their facilities to be used for the exercise.