The Minority in Parliament is demanding a temporary ban on all flights from Covid-19 hotspot countries.
The NDC MPs argue that allowing the importation of the virus into the country has the potential to erode the gains chalked in the fight against the pandemic.
At a press conference Sunday, Ranking Member on the Health Committee, Kwabena Mintah Akando asked the government to increase testing and surveillance as well as equip immigration officers with the requisite logistics to contain the spread of the virus at the Kotoka International Airport.
He said, “We recommend that government like it’s counterparts elsewhere must place temporary ban on flights from Covid-19 hotspot countries until the situation in those areas improve.”
He urged the government to also look into introducing real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction testing kits at Ghana’s entry points, especially the airport, to improve the efficacy of the nation’s Covid-screening program.
According to the legislator, the current antigen tests being used are susceptible to producing false negatives.
“As stated by the American CDC, antigen tests are effective when patient’s viral loads are high. This implies that the antigen test we have relied on at our airport has the propensity to yield false negatives reducing its reliability as an effective screen against SARS Cov-2.
“Due to this, some jurisdictions use real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction test in order to detect patients with early exposure to Covid-19 to improve on the speed of test. Ghana, therefore, has imported cases of the virus which were not detected via the antigen test at the airport; putting the entire nation at risk.
He added that, “It is therefore incumbent on government to increase testing and provide protection for our immigration officers in order to control the spread of the virus within the general population.
“The risk could have been avoided if government right from the onset had instituted an antigen policy like most other countries to determine when antigen tests are sufficient and when to either add on PCR tests or perform PCR tests to elucidate activity or otherwise of suspected Covid-19 patients.”
The Minority is also calling on the government to increase Covid-19 screening at the Sea Ports.
According to them, “There is also currently no protocol with regards to ship crews arriving at our sea ports.
“There are no recommended antigen tests for those individuals considering the fact that Covid spreads in confined spaces and some of these crew members may have stayed for weeks in close quarters with others who may be infected. Government must as a matter of urgency, institute the Covid-19 testing policy for ship crews in order to ensure the general safety of Ghanaians,” Mr. Akando said on behalf of the Minority.
They further called on government to formulate and submit copies of the Covid-19 screening policy to Parliament and implement them within the next few days.