Award-winning Ghanaian journalist, Israel Laryea has taken to his verified Facebook page to call on the President Akufo-Addo led government to possibly find a more prudent way of testing people who are coming to Ghana through our Airport for COVID-19.
In the long post he made, he questioned the efficacy of the antigen-based COVID-19 test which is conducted for international passengers arriving at the Kotoka International Airport.
According to him, all scientists he has spoken with and even officials of the Ghana Health Service agree that the test is not as effective in detecting the virus as the gold standard PCR.
The renowned Multimedia Group employee also noted that in as much as all these scientists and health professionals agree that the test is not the best, when travelers arrive at the Kotoka International Airport they conduct “a relatively “inferior” test on them and charge $150 for a test that costs far less.”
Israel also suggested that the current increase in the rate if COVID-19 is likely being caused by the number of cases we missed because of the ‘inferior’ test being conducted at KIA and called on the government to do more.
Read his full post below…
I think we as Ghanaians need to bring enough pressure to bear on our government to take another look at the antigen-based COVID-19 test we conduct on international passengers arriving at the Kotoka International Airport.
All scientists I’ve spoken with and even officials of the Ghana Health Service agree the test is not as effective in detecting the virus as the gold standard PCR, especially when we ask the travelers to only come to Ghana when they have a negative PCR test. Yet, when they arrive at the Kotoka International Airport we conduct a relatively “inferior” test on them and charge $150 for a test that costs far less.
With the rate at which our cases are increasing, my suspicion is that a lot of the people who came into the country, especially during Christmas are likely to have “sneaked” through our airport testing regime, having been certified as negative though positive, and entered the country with the false notion that they don’t have coronavirus and will therefore go about spreading the virus unknowingly.
One of the arguments in favour of the antigen-based test is how quickly the results can be produced, often within 40 minutes so that the passengers will be happy to leave the airport if they’re negative. But should it be about the passengers’ convenience or the safety of the general populace?
One other justification for the relatively high test fee is that the private company invested heavily in the testing infrastructure at the airport. But hasn’t the company recouped its investment already after 130,544 airport tests (January 11) multiplied by $150. That’s $19,581,600. (Ethiopia in 2015 was to build three airports with $64.5 million).
Here’s how at least one country I know, goes about its airport COVID-19 tests and which I’d propose for government’s consideration.
All passengers are to come in with a negative PCR test result as we currently do and have their samples taken on arrival at Kotoka for a PCR test which could be done for $60 at a profit as being charged by private labs in Ghana. We could then check these passengers into designated hotels (with adequate security) which hotels government can negotiate with so they heavily discount their rates as they will be guaranteed business. So maybe $80 or even $90 for the 24 hours hotel stay within which period the PCR test results should be available. If you’re negative, you’re free to leave the hotel but sent into quarantined care if found positive.The total cost of test + a night’s hotel stay will still come to $150 but for a more effective test and while at it, we would have given our hotels some good business to keep them afloat.
It’s my suggestion. If you have a better idea, propose it too and don’t insult. Otherwise, let’s share it with the people who matter and even refine it for our collective good.
In the meantime though, please observe the preventive protocols and stay safe.