The government has granted permission for the deportation of 245 Ghanaians illegally residing in Kuwait, a country in Western Asia.
The deportees are expected into the country today (May 23) in spite of the closure of Ghana’s borders as part of measures to control importation of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah who made the announcement at a news conference in Accra yesterday said the deportees will be conveyed via a chartered flight at the cost of the Kuwaiti government.
He was quick to add however, that the move did not in any way reverse government’s decision on international air travels saying, “we are still analysing the data on the number of Ghanaians who are stranded outside and we will treat them on a cohort by cohort basis should there be a need to evacuate them, provided it posed no risk to the Ghanaian public.”
“So far, the number of Ghanaians who have given us information on their status are in their thousands and are scattered across the globe but we have not made any firm decision on evacuating them yet.”
Mr Oppong Nkrumah indicated that in line with standard protocols, all 245 expatriates would be mandatorily quarantined and tested for COVID-19 upon arrival.
According to him, the National Security in collaboration with the Military, Ghana Immigration and Police Services have been directed to enforce the mandatory quarantine while officials of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) have been detailed to conduct testing and treatment.
“Deportees who test positive will be supported with treatment. Those who test negative will remain in quarantine for a second test at the end of the 14-day quarantine period.”
The cost of quarantine and treatment, the Minister noted, would be borne by government.
He pointed out though, that, the deportees would be received and handled in line with immigration regulations to ascertain circumstances under which they stayed in Kuwait illegally.
“They will be in the custody of the state for preliminary investigations on the circumstances of their illegal stay in Kuwait. Upon completion of the investigations, a case by case determination will be made on their status and further handling of each deportee in accordance with law.”
“The general public is hereby assured that all measures to ensure the health of the general population and the gains of the COVID-19 response programme are being upheld and taken into consideration by government,” the Minister stated.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo directed the total closure of Ghana’s borders by land, air and sea effective March 22, 2020 but on May 1, the President eased the ban on flight services with the reopening of domestic flights amidst the pandemic.
The resumption of flight operations was preceded by thorough fumigation of the various regional airports and the introduction of new enhanced COVID-19 safety protocols by airport authorities and the GHS.
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH