More than 100 unvaccinated Ghanaians who arrived at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) on Tuesday December 14, 2021, have been vaccinated with the single-shot Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine as per the Ghana Health Service (GHS) directive.
The directive is part of the revised protocol for persons arriving in the country through the KIA following the detection of the Omicron variant of the (COVID-19).
The Head, Port Health at the KIA, Dr Lawrence Lartey, who confirmed the jabbing in an interview with the Daily Graphic yesterday, said the vaccination was done for unvaccinated Ghanaians who arrived in the country, following the coming into effect of the revised policy.
He explained that the Ghanaians who were vaccinated were returning from West African countries and indicated that the vaccination exercise would continue for the next two weeks, as per the GHS mandatory vaccine policy.
Per the GHS directive, airlines that bring passengers who are not fully vaccinated to the KIA shall be surcharged $3,500 per passenger.
Again, passengers are required to present evidence of having filled Ghana’s Health Declaration Form (HDF) at www.ghs-hdf.org at the point of embarkation, and that airlines that bring passengers to the KIA without the passengers having filled out the HDF will also be surcharged $3,500 per passenger.
However, so far, no airline has been surcharged for bringing in unvaccinated persons, and according to Dr Lartey, that directive would be implemented in the coming weeks.
He said all unvaccinated Ghanaians and residents of Ghana who were currently outside the country and intended to return within 14 days from yesterday, December 14, 2021, were exempted from the airline surcharge up to December 28, 2021, but they would be vaccinated on arrival at the airport.
The revised travel guideline for international passengers, including passengers from West Africa, came into effect as a result of the new COVID-19 variant, the Omicron.
Since the detection of the virus, the KIA has had a strict travel guideline, including the observation of the prescribed COVID-19 protocol, in addition to the mandatory PCR testing.
However, with the detection of the Omicron variant, the policy has been revised to include proof of full vaccination.
As part of efforts to control another wave of the pandemic due to the festive celebrations, as witnessed last year, the GHS announced that all unvaccinated Ghanaians and people with residential status who would be returning to the country within 14 days from midnight of Tuesday, December 14, 2021 would be vaccinated on arrival.
Additionally, the GHS said all persons who were 18 years or above arriving in the country were required to provide evidence of full vaccination for a COVID-19 vaccine.
COVID-19 review directive
The directive formed part of a review of the national COVID-19 preventive protocols instituted at the KIA to limit the importation of COVID-19.
In a related development, the GHS, together with the Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL), managers of the KIA, in updated COVID-19 guidelines for the KIA, says all international passengers, including those from the ECOWAS region, intending to fly to Ghana will be required to meet the following health requirements prior to admission to the country:
For passengers who already have a PanaBios account, enter your country of origin and set the destination to Ghana on https://trustedtravel.panabios.org or on the UNDP-endorsed Global Haven site: www.globalhaven.org.
Secondly, passengers who do not have an account should create an account on the AU-endorsed site: https://trustedtravel.panabios.org.
Additionally, passengers are advised to visit only a TT (thrombin time) laboratory. If there are none close to you, take your test at another accredited laboratory on the PanaBIOS or Global Haven labs registry.
On arriving, passengers 18 years and above will be required to provide evidence of full vaccination for a COVID-19 vaccine at the point of embarkation.
Persons who are vaccinated with vaccines on WHO Emergency Use Listing but not registered by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Ghana for Emergency Use Authorisation will be offered one of the FDA, Ghana approved vaccines on arrival at the airport.
Passengers, the directive said, must possess a COVID-19 negative PCR test from an accredited laboratory in the country of origin and the test should have been done not more than 72 hours before the scheduled departure time from the country of origin.
Also, airlines who take on board passengers without PCR test results or transport and disembark passengers with positive PCR test results in Accra will be fined US$3,500 per passenger.
Non-Ghanaians, it said, might be refused entry and returned to the point of embarkation at a cost to the airline, while Ghanaians would be allowed entry but subjected to 14 days of mandatory quarantine at a designated facility.
However, Ghanaian residents who depart Ghana and return within one week will not be required to present a COVID-19 result from the country of departure. They will, however, undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing upon arrival at a cost to be borne by the passenger.
The directive gave the fees as Ghanaians and ECOWAS citizens, $50, and all other passengers, $150.
However, it said airline crew were exempted from the pre-departure and arrival COVID-19 testing and should follow the airline policy for testing.
Also, children under five years, it said, would not be required to undergo testing on arrival at the KIA, while children between five and12 years would be tested free of charge on arrival at the KIA.