The Bureau of Public Safety (BPS) is calling for the immediate scrapping of the mandatory Covid-19 test of people travelling into the country.
In a press release, the BPS stated that charging travellers $150 for a mandatory test is a breach of the International Health Regulations.
Article 40 Paragraph 1 & 1(a) of the IHR regulations states:
“Except for travellers seeking temporary or permanent residence, no charge shall be made by a State Party for any medical examination provided for in the IHR, or any supplementary examination which may be required by that State Party to ascertain the health status of the traveller examined for the protection of public health”.
Speaking on Newsnight the Executive Director of BPS, Nana Yaw Akwada said that the bureau appreciates government’s efforts to protect the country but his outfit believes that government may have lost sight of the international regulation.
“This should never have been in the first place and so as soon as this comes to the Minister of Health’s attention he should redeem Ghana of this international embarrassment,” Mr Akwada said.
The Executive Director advised government to maintain the PCR test requirement for passengers travelling into the country to ensure that no new infections are imported into the country.
He added that passengers without a PCR test must be required to follow the 14-day mandatory self-isolation regimen.
This comes after President Akufo-Addo announced the lifting of sanctions against air travel.
In his address, he outlined measures being taken to ensure the country does not record new Covid-19 cases and that included a recommended PCR test for passengers 72 hours before boarding and an antigen test after landing.
The $150 antigen test did not only raise eyebrows because of its cost but also its reliability.
Lead virologist and a Senior Researcher at Noguchi Memorial Institute, Dr Kofi Bonney said on Newsnight that comparatively to the PCR tests, about half the antigen tests conducted are inaccurate.
“In terms of the two, we call the PCR the go-standard because it is very sensitive as compared to the antigen test. Scientifically the PCR test within 72 hours is enough,” he stated
Mr Bonney added that he is unaware of what went into the decision of using the antigen test in place of the PCR test, describing the former as “less sensitive”.
Meanwhile, the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has defended the quality of the antigen test being conducted at the airport.
The Head of the FDA’s Laboratory Service Department Karikari Boateng said on JoyNew Desk that the device would not have been approved if it could not detect the virus in asymptomatic persons.