Latest information picked up by Whatsup News from the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) is that international airlines are protesting the mode of payment prescribed by the Akufo Addo administration for arriving passengers being tested for COVID-19.
Reliable sources tell Whatsup News that representatives of the airlines met the Ghana Airport Company and other Ghanaians authorities today, September 16, 2020, and told them flatly that they cannot force passengers to pre-pay for COVID-19 testing as the government proposed recently.
The Akufo Addo administration is working with Frontier Healthcare, a company owned by questionable individuals who have been given the contract to charge US$150 per passenger for a cheap COVID-19 Antigen test.
Initially, passengers were paying for the test on arrival, with those who could not afford either forced into quarantine or turned back. The obvious inconvenience apparently influenced the government and Frontier Healthcare to order that all passengers must pre-pay for the test before boarding their flights to Ghana.
A circular from Frontier Healthcare reads: “…as part of the COVID-19 test protocol requirements for Ghana, passengers travelling to Kotoka International Airport (KIA)-Accra are expected to make online payments…passengers are required to show proof of payment to airlines as a condition for boarding of flights to KIA.”
However, the airlines whose business have been hard-hit by travel bans due to the COVID-19 outbreak are not amused with the Ghanaians government asking them to take on an extra responsibility that might cost them their customers.
They reportedly stormed the meeting today at the Ghana Airport Company to vehemently resist the arrangement. Whatsup News gathered that the deadline for the airlines to start effecting the pre-payment order was on September 15, 2020, but due to the anger of the airlines, a new deadline has been set for September 21, 2020.
Already, the test has become a controversial subject as critics have fingered the Akufo Addo administration for ripping travellers off with the testing protocol.
Recently, Dr Kofi Bonney, a scientist from Noguchi revealed that the Covid-19 test at KIA was being done through Antigen test which is the cheapest and less accurate.
According to him, the test being conducted at KIA is an Antigen test that should not cost more than US$ 30 per test.
Indeed, Ghana’s cost of testing is among the top-four in the world of countries including Benin and India.
“Scientifically with the PCR test, within 72 hours, it’s enough. I don’t know why we have to do an antigen test which is less sensitive upon arrival. If we look at the tests that have been done over the years, we have a varying sensitivity percentage between 34% to around 80%,” he told Joy News a couple of weeks ago.
However, his revelation quickly drew a counter statement from the management of Noguchi, who claim Dr. Bonney was talking in his personal capacity, and not necessarily reflect the view of Noguchi about the controversial test.
In a September 3, 2020 statement issued in response to Dr. Bonney, the Noguchi research centre insists that it does not share the views of its scientist and that of critics who have pointed out the apparent profiteering from the COVID-19 test.