A Deputy Health Minister, Dr Bernard Okoe Boye has justified the $150 fee charge for COVID-19 test at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA).
The Managing Director of Ghana Airport Company Limited, Yaw Kwakwa on Monday, August 31, 2020, announced that passengers who come into the country through KIA will be compelled to undertake mandatory COVID-19 testing at a fee of $150.
A number of stakeholders have raised concerns over the amount involved.
Dr Okoe Boye reacting to the concerns on the Citi Breakfast Show on Tuesday, September 1, 2020, justified the cost for the COVID-19 test.
According to him, they make use of an antigen test which identifies the virus using Amino acid technology and is able to produce accurate results in less than 30 minutes.
“We’ve heard comments which suggest this is a rapid test and rapid tests are cheap and all that. It’s true most rapid tests are cheap because they go in for antibodies…Before you even develop an antibody, it takes between two to three weeks minimum to have them in your blood in your system and by that time your viral presence would have gone and whoever you would have come across, you would have already infected the person before the antibody could pick you. So, if you have a system like we have in Ghana of trying to stop entry into the country then rapid antibody testing is a no-go area.”
“So this test that is happening at the airport is an antigen test and I have complaints that the PCR test is not expensive so why is this more expensive than that one? Simply put, a PCR test is also an antigen test. Antigen goes for the causative organism and a PCR first extracts the DNA material and the RNA material. But what we have at the airport is one that doesn’t go through that long process but is able to identify the virus using amino acid technology.”
Dr Okoe Boye had earlier insisted that the-150-dollar fee was reasonable compared with global charges.
“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. So we quickly looked at what is being charged across the globe. When you go to a place like Zimbabwe you will pay about $210 for the test. In China, you will pay about $150 for the test. In Togo and Benin, you will pay about 150 euros and in Nigeria, it is 130 dollars but you will have to go to a hotel and lodge till the results are ready. With the turn around time and accuracy of the test assured, we had to decide whether the $150 was enough to cover all the expenses. We finally agreed to peg it at that for now.”