Deputy Aviation Minister, Yaw Maama Afful, has said no one is being detained at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) over their inability to pay the $150 fee for a COVID-19 test upon arrival.
According to him, those who cannot pay for the test are rather quarantined for 14 days but “not detained.”
“We are not detaining anybody. I don’t want to use the word detaining.
“There’s a difference between detaining and quarantining,” he said.
He explained that, “If you don’t submit to the test, we have no way of knowing whether or not you have COVID-19”.
“So, in that case, we’ll quarantine you for 14 days and after that period, if we investigate and realise you don’t have it, then we let you go”, he said.
According to him, the government settled on the $150 fee because that is what will make the private company conducting it “break even” due to its “investment, equipment, staff and overhead expenses”.
“I believe that the $150 is the amount that will help them to break even”, he stressed.
On Tuesday, the vice-presidential nominee of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Prof Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, said President Nana Akufo-Addo and his Minister of Health, Mr Kweku Agyeman-Manu, must immediately intervene to ensure that some Ghanaians who flew in from outside and have been detained at the Kotoka International Airport for their inability to pay the $150 fee for a COVID-19 test before entry, are released.
She said the fee must be waived for them since they should not be stranded in their own country.
In a statement, Prof Opoku-Agyemang said: “My attention has been drawn to a disturbing video circulating online purporting to show Ghanaian travellers, who have been detained and stranded at the Kotoka International Airport for their inability to raise $150 each to pay for the COVID test.”
“It is a distressing video”, she said, “but what is particularly heartbreaking is seeing a young nursing mother and an infant dealing with these inhumane conditions”.
The former Minister of Education said, “It is the primary responsibility of any government to offer aid to all of its citizens, especially in times like these”.
“No Ghanaian should be left stranded in their own country and no government should look on unconcerned.
“No citizen is any less of a Ghanaian because of their economic circumstance.
“All Ghanaians matter”, she noted.
“I respectfully call on the sector minister, as well as the President to show compassion in a time like this, waive their fees, and eventually release these vulnerable citizens to join their families at home”, the statement said.