Air border opens tomorrow to all flights

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  • Rapid testing system deployed at KIA
  • Land and sea boarders remain closed 

In a major step to restore the economy to normalcy, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has announced that from tomorrow, September 1, 2020, the country’s main air border, Kotoka International Airport (KIA), is open to international flights but passengers would be tested immediately at the airport with their results delivered in half an hour.

Despite the opening of the air border, the President was however emphatic that borders by land and sea will continue to remain closed to human traffic until arrangements are made for their safe reopening as well.

In his 16th COVID-19 address to the nation yesterday, President Akufo-Addo noted that the decision has been duly communicated to all international airline operators who asked for some prior notice to afford them the opportunity to reconfigures their systems to allow for ticketing.

“I am glad to announce that Kotoka International Airport will reopen and resume operations from Tuesday, September 1, 2020. This decision has been communicated to international airlines,” the president said.

He however, noted that to ensure that cases are not imported into the country, the source of the first two cases, any passenger arriving in Ghana must be in possession of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result from an accredited laboratory in the country of origin. The test, he noted, should have been done not more than 72 hours before the scheduled departure from the country of origin.

All airlines have been instructed to ensure compliance with this directive for all passengers wishing to travel to Ghana, and those airlines who fail in this regard will be duly sanctioned, he added.

Despite all these measures, the President said all disembarking passengers must wear their face masks and upon disembarking each passenger will undergo a mandatory COVID-19 test at the airport terminal, at a fee to be borne by the passenger with the test result to be made available within half an hour. Children under the ages of five, though, have been exempted from these tests.

“Passengers who test positive for COVID-19 will be handled by the health authorities for further clinical assessment and management but passengers who test negative can, thereupon, enter Ghana to go about their lawful activities, and will be advised to continue to observe COVID-19 safety precautions during their stay in Ghana.

A set up of 70 sample collection booths have been built at the upper level of the arrival hall alongside a state-of-the-art laboratory in the airport to attend to all the arriving passengers. The results would then be electronically transferred to the port health stations in the main arrival hall,” he noted.

The ministries of Information, Health and Aviation, and their respective agencies – the Ghana Health Service, the Ghana Airports Co. Ltd., and the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority – will spell out in further detail the protocols surrounding the re-opening of the international airport, and the procedures to be adhered to by passengers arriving in Ghana at the COVID-19 media briefing today, Monday, August 31.

Simulation

Airport officials conducted a series of simulation from Friday through to Sunday before the President was given the green light to announce the re-opening of the airport. According to the GACL, the simulation exercises were done with peak time assumptions and the airport is not anticipating a hold up of passengers. The GACL is confident about a smooth operation which will provide the uttermost comfort to the passengers and also block all avenues of COVID-19 imported cases.

Disinfection

A disinfection exercise would be carried out to prepare the airport for re-opening. “The disinfection teams have been properly trained to ensure they execute a professional job,” Aviation Minister Joseph Kofi Adda said, adding that the disinfecting team is to ensure that all surfaces and all places people can touch and get infected are polished and disinfected.

“Cannon atomisers would be used to spray open spaces at the airport as well as the other ancillary facilities at the airport.”

GHS safety protocol

Already, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has issued some guidelines for the safe reopening of international travel in the country amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. The guidelines require the airport to ensure temperature monitoring continues at both arrival and departure terminals.

The GHS’ notice indicated that it had observed overcrowding as one of the factors contributing to the spread of the virus, therefore it urged Ghana’s only international airport to ensure there is no congestion at all sections of the airport. The Ghana Health Service further stated that KIA must ensure social distancing and compulsory mask-wearing at the car parks and in front of all terminals.

Airline operators ready

Airline operators last week Friday met with the Minister of Aviation and expressed readiness to commence operations. At the meeting, the operators said they had configured their systems to allow for ticket sales and setting up routing schedules with neighbouring countries especially Nigeria which has also opened its air borders. The move is to optimise their operations which have gone down for the past five months.

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