Impose travel restrictions to check recent surge in imported Covid-19 cases- Minority tells government

Impose travel restrictions to check recent surge in imported Covid-19 cases- Minority tells governmentImpose travel restrictions to check recent surge in imported Covid-19 cases- Minority tells governmentThe Minority in Parliament is asking government to as a matter of urgency consider imposing travel restrictions on countries currently experiencing high Covid-19 infection rates.This comes after Frontiers Healthcare Services, the company responsible for Covid-19 testing at the Kotoka International Airport, raised alarm over a recent surge in positive Covid-19 cases imported into the country.According to Frontiers, 75 positive Covid-19 cases were recorded on April 24, 2021.“This exceeds the previous highest rate of 45 positive cases on the date 21st of April, 2021,” a letter addressed to the Managing Director of Ghana Airport Company Limited, Yaw Kwakwa and copied to the Ghana Health Service on Saturday said.With this development, the minority in Parliament has questioned the authenticity of the PRC being conducted at the airport.“This clearly raises three pertinent issues. The first has to do with the authenticity of the PCR test results carried by infected travelers coming into the country, second, the safety protocols instituted at the various airports’ travelers may have used before arriving in the country and third our own measures to ensure the safety of immigration and other officials working at KIA,” the statement signed by the Ranking Member on Parliament’s Health Committee, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh said.Consequently, the Minority is asking government to double its efforts in addressing these issues. They have proposed some measures, including the imposition of travel restrictions.“Government should also consider travel restrictions on countries currently experiencing high Covid-19 infection rates to reduce the possibility of importing Covid-19 infections into the country. Some countries have already implemented these measures and Ghana should also consider doing same.”“A determination must [also] be made on how so many travelers are able to pass through the first screen procedure of a PCR test at their country of origin and land in Ghana having a COVID-19 infection. This may indicate either poor tests or fake results.”Read full statement below:MINORITY IN PARLIAMENT’S PRESS STATEMENT ON THE INFLUX OF COVID-19 POSITIVE TEST RESULTS AT THE KOTOKA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT.Our attention has been drawn to the alarming increase of positive COVID-19 cases arriving in the country over the past week at the Kotoka International Airport. This news is alarming since we all know that our current struggles with COVID-19 started with two index patients coming through the same airport on the 12th of March last year.Since then, several protocols have been instituted to reduce the probability of infections and keep Ghanaians safe. Key amongst them is the travel guideline which includes two compulsory COVID-19 tests – a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test at the country of origin and a $150 antigen test on arrival at the Kotoka International airport – before travelers are allowed into the country.However, the information we have gathered so far indicates that on the 24th of April an all-time high of 75 travelers tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 at the airport. This coming as a 67% jump on the previous all-time high of 45 cases recorded on the 21st of April last week, shows an exponential upward trajectory in terms of the positivity rate amongst travelers arriving at Kotoka.This clearly raises three pertinent issues. The first has to do with the authenticity of the PCR test results carried by infected travelers coming into the country, second, the safety protocols instituted at the various airports’ travelers may have used before arriving in the country and third our own measures to ensure the safety of immigration and other officials working at KIA.Government must double its efforts to address these issues. First, a determination must be made on how so many travelers are able to pass through the first screen procedure of a PCR test at their country of origin and land in Ghana having a COVID-19 infection. This may indicate either poor tests or fake results.And in that regard it is encouraging, although late, that government has issued a directive to have all PCR test results of arriving travelers digitally verified to reduce the probability of travelers arriving with fake COVID-19 test certificates. But the government should also consider a careful examination of the data and where necessary impose travel restrictions from regions that have travelers presenting fake or poor test results.Government should also consider travel restrictions on countries currently experiencing high COVID-19 infection rates to reduce the possibility of importing COVID-19 infections into the country. Some countries have already implemented these measures and Ghana should also consider doing same.Ghanaians have endured many losses in terms of lives, resources, lost opportunities with the economy taking a hit resulting in one of its lowest growth rates since the inception of the 4th republic. Restrictions on movement; the organization of social events such as funerals, weddings, and parties; and the requirement to wear personal protective equipment such as nose masks and face shields in public places.After all these sacrifices, the current situation at the airport may be heralding a disaster of unimaginable proportions if not addressed. It is therefore incumbent on the government to take its responsibility at the airport more seriously and as a matter of urgency, implement enhanced measures to better control the importation of COVID cases.Thank you.Kwabena Mintah Akandoh (MP)(Ranking Member on the Health Committee of Parliament MP for Juaboso)

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