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General News of Monday, 31 August 2020

Source: starrfm.com.gh

Okoe-Boye defends US$150 mandatory coronavirus test for travelers

Deputy Health Minister, Dr Bernard Okoe-Boye play videoDeputy Health Minister, Dr Bernard Okoe-Boye

Deputy Health Minister Dr Bernard Okoe-Boye has defended government’s $150 compulsory charge for COVID-19 test for travellers arriving in the country.

Travellers who wish to leave the country are expected to do a compulsory Covid-19 PCR test at the airport, which would have results available within thirty minutes, an announcement which has received mixed reactions from Ghanaians over the cost.

This comes after President Akufo-Addo announced that Ghana’s International Airport will be reopened on Tuesday, September 1 after five months of shutdown as part of measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The president disclosed that passengers on arrival must also be in possession of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result from an accredited laboratory in the country of origin. The test should have been done not more than seventy-two (72) hours before the scheduled departure from the country of origin.

However, defending the cost at a ministry of information presser for the new guideline for travel, Dr Okoe-Boye said the fee was relatively cheaper as compared to neighbouring countries.

He said “when you go to Togo, here you pay about 150 euros, in Benin, you pay about 150 euros. In fact, I just got the figures from Nigeria, they pay about 130 dollars.”

He indicated: “before this reopening, we had evacuation flights coming to Ghana and any passenger who got on board actually paid for two-weeks of hotel bills before coming to Ghana. if you are paying an average of 70 dollars per night, you have to multiply 70 dollars by 14 days. The cost far overwhelms what we are charging for the test we are doing right now.”

“Secondly, if we should keep you here for six hours, for the other test, it will pose a risk of congestion at the airport which in itself will serve as an incubation chamber for possibly sharing of the virus amongst passengers. So, the factors tell us that it is actually prudent to go with this regime.”

He stressed: “thirdly, remember that when Ghana first quarantined travellers in this country, and we picked over 14 cases, we actually tested them twice and each PCR test we did cost an average 70 to 100 dollars. So, Ghana spent close to 200 dollars on one person, to make sure that the virus is not brought to Ghanaian.”

“So, for the passenger to pay 150 dollars, which is less than what we pay I think that its a very good bargain,” he added.

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