Story: Yaw Takyi
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has thrown its weight behind some directives issued by the Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL) to protect the country and its citizens against an upsurge in Covid-19 cases.
According to GACL, passengers arriving in Ghana from China “will be required to undergo mandatory Covid-19 testing on arrival at the Kotoka International Airport at no cost,”
GACL added that “passengers originating their journey from China will be required to present a valid negative Covid-19 PCR test result 48 hours prior to departure from the originating country.”
Backing this stance in a new press release, the Ministry urged the public to take the necessary precaution when travelling to China.
It further stressed that only “essential travels should be undertaken until further notice
Since November last year, China had witnessed a surge in cases after the lifting of its most severe restrictions.
But the latest official figures appear to show a relatively low number of new daily cases.
However, there are concerns that these numbers are underestimated due to a recent reduction in Covid testing.
The government reported only 2,097 new daily cases on Sunday.
Epidemiologist Wu Zunyou has said he believes the current spike in infections would run until mid-January, while a second wave would then be triggered by mass travel in January around the week-long Lunar New Year celebrations which begin on 21st January. Millions of people usually travel at this time to spend the holiday with family.
He claimed that a third surge in cases would run from late February to mid-March as people return to work after the holiday.
Due to this, a number of countries have announced new entry restrictions on travellers from China, while others such as Italy and Japan require a negative test on arrival.
Some countries, including the United States, attributed the change to China’s lack of information on genome sequencing and Covid-19 variants.
Here in Ghana, the Ghana Health Service noted that the country’s relatively low vaccine coverage poses a major threat of importation and a new wave of COVID-19 infection in the country.
The Service in a press release dated January 1, 2023, said it was taking the needed steps to ensure the situation does not get out of hand.
“This situation calls for tightening and reviewing of existing measures to avert further outbreaks. Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of Health are critically monitoring the situation in consultation with key stakeholders. We will shortly come out with our country specific measures to address the current threat of COVID-19, especially with respect to importation,” the Director-General of GHS, Dr. Patrick Kumah-Aboagye assured in the release.
Subsequently, the Ghana Airports Company (GAC) updated the Covid-19 guidelines for passengers using the Kotoka International Airport.
The revised guidelines take effect from January 6, 2023 at 00:00 hours (UTC).