The Kotoka International Airport has deployed a comprehensive technology for use by all travelers as part of the government’s efforts to avert the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The technology christened PanaBios also seek to address the issue of fake results presented by some passengers to health authorities.
The technology makes digital verification of COVID-19 test results possible based on the African Union Trusted Travel and ECOWAS BIOMARS standard. It is powered by the Ghana Health Service and the PanaBIOS Consortium. It covers all the authorized COVID-19 PCR testing laboratories in the country.
In a press statement, the Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu said the new system will help “stop the circulation of fake test results, which if left unchecked would damage the country’s efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 infection through imported cases.”
All passengers travelling in and out of the country are now mandated to register and generate a Trust Travel code on the PanaBios system. Authorities at the Kotoka International Airport will then verify the Travel code digitally before travels. The IT system becomes the third safety layer in the West Africa country’s fight against the deadly respiratory diseases. The other two are the PCR test required for arriving passengers and the conduct of an antigen test upon arrival for all travelers.
In recent days, the third wave of the disease has claimed more lives and infected hundreds countries such as India, Brazil and Turkey. Due to increases in imported cases, some countries have had to restrict travel to persons who have recently visited countries experiencing the third wave in Europe, Asia and Latin America. For instance, Nigerian authorities have announced that effective today May 4, any passenger who has visited India, Brazil and Turkey will be denied entry into the country.
Ghana’s current COVID-19 cases and travel protocol
As of May 3, Ghana has recorded a total of 92,683 confirmed cases– 82 of which were new cases– with 779 deaths. Despite confirming an increase in imported cases at KIA, the government is yet to announce any such restrictions to passengers from the three countries going through a third wave.
By the country’s policy, all international arrivals including those from the ECOWAS region are required to meet specific health protocols before admission into Ghana. An arriving passenger must not have symptoms of COVID-19, with body temperature not exceeding 38 degrees Celsius. The passenger must possess a negative PCR test result, done at most 72 hours before departure, from a certified lab in the country of departure. The passengers are made to complete a form and then proceed to the sampling cubicle for their samples to be taken before descending to the main arrival hall.
ECOWAS nationals and travelers who test positive for COVID-19 bear the cost of the mandatory isolation and treatment. Ghanaian nationals who test positive, upon their arrival into the country, have their isolation and treatment costs absorbed by the State. The cost for the mandatory COVID-19 test at the Kotoka International Airport for all in-bound ECOWAS nationals, including children between the ages of 5-12years, is US$50. The cost of the test for non-ECOWAS nationals, however, still remains US$150 per passenger.