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The Minister for Aviation, Hon. Joseph Kofi Adda (far right) inspecting preparations ahead of the restart of scheduled flight operations at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA)/Photo: GACL

Ghana resumes international flights after 5 months of Covid-19 break

Ghana reopens air borders to international travel on 1 September after closing them in March to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Delivering his 16th address to the nation since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic on Sunday, President Akufo-Addo announced that government had decided to re-open the airport because public health officials can now conduct rapid tests to enable the isolation of passengers who might arrive in the country with the novel coronavirus.

Kotoka International Airport, Ghana’s only international airport, has introduced and enforced new measures to prioritise the health and safety of passengers and staff, including temperature checks, the making the wearing of face masks mandatory, physical distancing protocols in the airport and on-board aircraft, and the increased use of sanitiser.

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As a result of the elaborate safety procedures, passengers are advised to arrive the airport four hours before the scheduled departure time of their flights.

President Akufo-Addo announced measures that have been taken and duly communicated to airlines wishing to resume flights to Ghana.

The measures include:

  1. any passenger arriving in Ghana must 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 72 hours before the scheduled departure from the country of origin. All airlines have been instructed to ensure compliance with this directive for all passengers wishing to travel to Ghana, and those airlines who fail in this regard will be duly sanctioned;
  2. disembarking passengers must do so wearing face masks;
  3. upon disembarking from the aeroplane, each passenger will undergo a mandatory Covid-19 test at the airport terminal, at a fee to be borne by the passenger. The test result will be available within 30 minutes;
  4. children under the ages of five will not be required to undergo testing at the airport
  5. passengers, who test positive for Covid-19, will be handled by the health authorities for further clinical assessment and management;
  6. passengers, who test negative, can, thereupon, enter Ghana to go about their lawful activities, and will be advised to continue to observe Covid-19 safety precautions during their stay in Ghana.

At a press conference on Monday, officials of the Ministries of Information, Health and Aviation, and their respective agencies- the Ghana Health Service, the Ghana Airports Co. Ltd., and the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority provided further details on the procedures to be adhered to by passengers arriving in or departing from Ghana.

It was announced at the parley that Ghana will charge arriving passengers at the Kotoka International Airport $150 for Covid-19 test, a decision that has been criticised as the fee is deemed by many to be too high.

Guidelines for Resumption of International Operations at Kotoka International Airport/Source: GACL

 

Also at the briefing,  highlighted the measures that will be implemented when the airport officially starts operating.

“There is a digitise health declaration form that people can fill, so passengers can complete that in the plane before they arrive at the airport. This will tell us [health workers] the risk level for us to know how to properly access it,” the Ghana Health Service Director-General, Dr Patrick Kuma Aboagye, said at the briefing.

“The mandatory Covid-19 test on arrival as President said will also be done and by the time you go through all of that and get down to the Immigration your results will be out for them to also process you and allow you in [the country].”

Aboagye noted that the flight crew will not be subjected to compulsory testing unless they are entering the country. For those who test positive for COvid-19, he said, “the port health will take over to assist you through the immigration so as to prevent further contamination.

“There will be a holding room and after that, they will all be sent to Ga East hospital for retrial after which the necessary protocols whether it is treatment, isolation etc will take place.”

While international air travel resumes on 1 September, land and sea borders will remain closed, President Akufo-Addo said in the speech to the nation.

Tim Apau

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