Covid-19: Aviation Minister assures of airport staff safety

The Minister of Aviation, Joseph Kofi Adda, has said staff of the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) – including the Ghana Immigration Service and Customs– are safe due to the measures that have been put in place at the airport to fight the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the country.

According to him, all the safety protocols that have been outlined by health professional are being strictly adhered to at all parts of the airport to ensure safety of staff and passengers.

With 16 positive cases recorded as at mid-day Friday, March 20 in Ghana – of which 95 percent are recorded as being imported cases via the KIA, it has brought a great deal of attention on the airport to ensure all its protocols are active at every point in time.

According to the sector minister, the Ghana Airport Company has put in place special arrangements to screen all passengers arriving in the country. Also, Mr. Adda noted that the scanning process has been enhanced with three thermal scanners, as well as an equipped holding or isolation room to keep persons or passengers who show symptoms of the virus.

All passengers are also mandated to fill in health declaration forms before exiting, to aid in contact tracing if need be.

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“it is really comforting to know that nothing has been detected, given everything about personal protective equipment, about public education programmes, about hand-washing, sanitisers and even the cargo that is coming in.

“The port health authorities are working with cargo managers to ensure that everything is under control,” Mr. Adda told the media after his inspection tour at the cargo units of the airport, including the Fixed Base Operator (FBO), to ascertain their preparedness and protocol measures for handling the COVID-19.

The minister assured that the GACL, in addition to the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority and Port Health Authorities, will on regular basis follow up on the protocols and ensure strict compliance.

“The checks are already ongoing; the Airport Company, Civil Aviation are working on a daily basis. They are also updating the relevant data and transmitting them to policymakers, including the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Aviation and the Presidency. So, we are doing the supervision and it is a continuous process,” Mr. Adda said.

The minister was satisfied with some of the measures which have been put in place to protect the staff, but was worried about the Customs’ office in the enclave that was harbouring more than 20 persons and not adhering to the safe distance protocols. The Customs team head at Aviance Ghana promised the minister that the situation will be rectified.

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The country’s air cargo industry is feeling the brunt of flight cancellation very hard.

Country Manager at Swiss Port Cargo Services, Chris Goodsir, explained that since the beginning of January, cargo volumes have declined by 17 percent; and with the recent cancellation of flights, the company has seen an approximately 20-25 percent decline in volume.

Cargo Manager at Aviance Ghana, Richard Baah, noted that they have realised a sharp decline in cargo from China and some European countries since the outbreak of COVID-19.

Figures from the Ghana Immigration Service show that cargo inflows have dropped by around 50–60 percent since passenger inflows went down by more than 60 percent. The drops are similar in number because 90 percent of air cargo comes on passenger airlines while 10 percent is on cargo airlines.

Meanwhile, the Airport Company has advised that in the spirit of the worldwide effort to prevent spread of COVID-19, many flights around the world are being cancelled. Therefore, intended travellers should check with airlines for the latest information.

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