An aviation expert, Sean Mendis, has disclosed that vaccination requirements in Ghana’s airport will not necessarily have a negative impact on passenger numbers in the country.
According to him, there’s always going to have to be a balance between the economic impact and public health impact to any protocols that are put in place to combat the pandemic. Mr Mendis explained that vaccination is not something that is going to “drive people away”, especially those who want to travel but are unable to access the vaccine.
Following Kotoka International Airport’s updated COVID-19 guidelines for mandatory vaccination for international travellers, he reckons that the people who are planning to travel are “already vaccinated” or have access to the vaccines. This, he noted, is something which will help “boost safety rather than drive down the numbers”.
“I don’t think vaccinations themselves are going to have a direct impact in terms of driving down passenger numbers. When we discussed this last year, I think we mentioned that Africa will be behind, probably going to be around 2022 before mandatory vaccinations become reality in Africa. I think Ghana is one of the first African countries now who are changing the step with vaccines pretty much available to anybody who wants them now”.Mr Sean Mendis
Bans imposed on African countries by foreign counterparts
Commenting on bans placed on African countries in response to the new Omicron variant by foreign countries, Mr Mendis indicated that the travel bans against many African countries are quite “ridiculous”. In a lot of cases, he expressed that these travel bans are being imposed by countries which have higher rates of infection of the Omicron variants themselves than the countries upon which they are placing the bans.
“There’s a question which I think needs to be asked, whether these countries are doing this with any scientific justification or whether they are simply doing it because they can pick on Africans easily and that allows them to make a political point in the domestic audience that look, we are doing something. So, I think it’s very shameful that a lot of these countries, the US, the UK [and] EU for example, who have placed bans on African countries for example even though some of these African countries do not even have cases of the Omicron virus”.Mr Sean Mendis
The Aviation expert emphasized that “direct tools” at the continent’s disposal to combat the spread of variants when travelling includes testing and vaccination. Mr Mendis intimated that a lot of African countries led the way in terms of using testing as a means to be able to prevent transmission or spread through travel.
“Now that the vaccination has become so widespread across the African continent or at least access to vaccination has become widespread throughout the African continent, it is the next logical tool. Remember, most African countries already have strong vaccination programs and have mandates of vaccinations of things like yellow fever to enter them anyway”.Mr Sean Mendis