COVID-19 variant spread: Ghana tightens travel restrictions …bans Israel, Malta, Korea for 14 days

Ghana yesterday placed travel ban on travellers coming into the country from Israel, Malta and South Korea due to the increase in COVID-19 cases across the world.

The restriction on Israel and South Korea is for 14 days while that of Malta is indefinite.

In the case of Malta, the ban affects travellers going to the country from Ghana while Ghana would not recognize vaccination certificates from that country.

This was contained in separate statements issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration yesterday.

Only Israel was granted exclusion for exceptional humanitarian cases or during official flights.

“Permission would have to be obtained from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration in exceptional cases,” the statement said.

“To this end the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration wishes to state that the general public should take note of the above and adhere to it accordingly,” it said.

The travel ban comes barely a week after the Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL) announced that effective December 14, airlines would be surcharged $3,500 per passenger if they brought any unvaccinated persons into the country.

A statement issued by the GACL to announce the new COVID-19 guidelines for all arrivals at the Kotoka International Airport during the festive period, said airlines that bring passengers who had not filled the health declaration form would also be surcharged $3,500 per passenger.

It said passengers  must not have symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 including body temperature  above 38 degrees Celsius, and are required to present evidence of having filled Ghana’s Health Declaration Form (HDF) online and possess a COVID-19 negative PCR test from an accredited laboratory in the country of origin.

The new COVID-19 guidelines were issued after seven cases of the Omicron variant were established within the Ghanaian population, taking the total number of positive cases in the country to 41.

The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, speaking in a media interview on December 12, 2021 said the variant was detected after testing and sequencing of samples was conducted in 66 communities.

“The first 34 cases were from the Airport. At the time, we sequenced samples from about 66 communities and all came out negative, but, in the second batch of tests, we have detected seven more cases,” he said.

The new Omicron variant was first identified in South Africa a couple of weeks ago and cases spread rapidly.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) at that time said that it was “spreading at a rate we have not seen with any previous variant”.

Various countries have introduced new COVID-19 guidelines including travel bans on some countries.

BY JONATHAN DONKOR

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