MP urges government to reduce cost of COVID-19 test at airport

Ghana has opened its airports to international traffic, but passengers are required to pay for a COVID-19 PCR test on arrival

The Member of Parliament (MP) for Ablekuma South has called for a reduction in the cost of the COVID-19 PCR test for passengers arriving at Kotoka International Airport.

Alfred Oko Vanderpuije says the government must take a second look at the US$150 being charged per passenger.

Ghana’s air space was officially opened to international traffic on 1 September 2020, in line with President Akufo-Addo’s earlier announcement.

However, in a bid to prevent the possible importation of COVID-19, the government has instituted mandatory measures for all passengers arriving in the country.

Aside from ensuring all safety protocols are observed, passengers are required to take a COVID-19 PRC at a cost of $150.

The PCR test takes between 15 and 30 minutes for the result to be known. 

Test fee “not affordable

Speaking to Onua FM, Vanderpuije, the deputy ranking member for the parliamentary select committee on foreign affairs, said the fee is too high.

He wondered why a  PCR test at the airport should be so expensive, and claimed some countries were even doing it for free.

The former mayor of Accra appealed to the government to ensure that it is reduced.

“What test would cost $150? So many places are doing it for free. Why must you charge such a fee for a test?” 

He added: “We have taken huge monies for COVID-19 – aome monies from Parliament, IMF and other funds – so we need to make the test affordable. I am appealing to the president.”

Turnaround time

Meanwhile, a deputy minister of health, Bernard Okoe Boye, has justified the government’s decision to peg the cost of the test at US$150.

Speaking at a press conference, he said the amount was reasonable because passengers will no longer go through the stress of being quarantined for days.

He remarked that other African countries, such as Benin, Togo and Zimbabwe, are charging even higher fees for the test at their airports.

“As a ministry and a government who are stakeholders in the management of COVID-19, we were very much interested in the cost of the test. We wanted to make sure that the cost of the test will not put an unnecessary burden on the passenger,” Dr Okoe Boye said. So we quickly looked at what is being charged across the globe.

“When you go to a place like Zimbabwe, you will pay about US$210 for the test. In China, you will pay about US$150 for the test. In Togo and Benin, you will pay about €150 and in Nigeria, it is US$130, but you will have to go to a hotel and lodge till the results are ready. 

“With the turnaround time and accuracy of the test assured, we had to decide whether the US$150 was enough to cover all the expenses. We finally agreed to peg it at that for now,” he said.

E A Alanore 

Asaase Radio 99.5 – tune in or log on to broadcasts online.

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