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The Chairman of the Health Committee in Parliament, Dr. Nana Ayew Afriyie wants a stakeholders’ forum to be held to address the concerns raised about the COVID-19 testing at the Kotoka International Airport being undertaken by Frontiers Health Services.
It follows concerns raised by the Minority in Parliament that there have been discrepancies in the outcome of COVID-19 tests conducted at the airport.
The Minority has said the government must immediately take steps to afford travellers the opportunity to have an independent opinion on COVID-19 tests performed at the airport.
But responding to the claims on Eyewitness News, Dr. Nana Ayew Afriyie said while issues of cost of the test must rather be a major concern for the Minority, the sensitivity and specificity of the results of the test and the request of passengers to confirm results could be properly addressed at the proposed forum.
“If it’s about cost, it is something we will support. The Minority raised an issue about confirmatory testing, I am okay with that. If I do the antigen test, and it’s positive, and I say I am going to pay another US$100 for the PCR test to confirm whether it is positive or negative, I will support it. The patient is entitled to a different opinion. There is nothing wrong with that. ”
“But you see, the fact that your PCR is negative, and the antigen is positive at the airport, does not mean you are okay because the PCR will struggle to see if you are positive within the time you got the infection. But the antigen will grab you. The only time you will be allowed to go home is when you have done the PCR test after three days. So this thing about the confirmatory testing, I need a forum and the scientists will be there,” he added.
Minority threatens abrogation of contract
The Minority has said it will not hesitate to cause the contract of the Frontiers Health Services conducting the test to be abrogated if steps are not taken to address concerns raised about such tests within a week.
A ranking member on the Health Committee of Parliament, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, at a press briefing, said: “It is a huge concern to us because, in the initial stages, we thought that whatever you do, there were going to be a few complaints about the systems, so I thought it was normal.”
“But I think it is becoming too many, and therefore we must have an alternative to solve this particular situation, but I am also drawing the attention of the people doing the testing to check their reagent and equipment. However, if it is found out that their equipment is different, we will not hesitate to call on the government to abrogate their contract.”
Why is testing an issue?
Currently, all passengers arriving in Ghana are to have in their possession a negative COVID‑19 PCR test result in English from an accredited laboratory in their country of origin.
The tests are to be done not more than 72 hours before the scheduled departure from the country of origin.
At the airport, passengers are subjected to a mandatory COVID‑19 PCR test at a cost of between $50 and $150 for Ghanaian and non-Ghanaian passengers respectively.
Passengers who test positive for COVID‑19 are made to undergo mandatory isolation and treatment at a designated health facility or isolation centre, at a cost to passengers, except for Ghanaian citizens.