No positive case of COVID-19 has been recorded at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) after it was re-opened on September 1, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, Director-General, Ghana Health Service (GHS), has said.
He said in two days, a total of 247 passengers had so far undergone Antigen Testing for COVID-19 at the Airport since its reopening on Tuesday, September 1; with no COVID-19 positive case.
Speaking at a press briefing on Thursday, September 3, in Accra, Dr Kuma-Aboagye said 217 passengers were tested on the first day of the re-opening of the Airport, September 1, and 30 tested on the second day, September 2.
He said the Antigen Testing (rapid point of care COVID-19 testing) devices installed at the Airport was for the detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in nasopharyngeal swabs.
“It is basically to ensure that we do not import viruses and people who are (having the virus) travelling into the country so that our airport is a safe area for people to transact business.”
He said arriving passengers were to submit a COVID-19 negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) results and the sample should have been taken not more than 72 hours before travel.
The Director-General said the passengers were also to undergo an Antigen test upon arrival at the Airport; stating that “if you are negative, you go through immigration and customs and depart”.
“If positive, the passenger will be isolated in a holding room and will be transported to Ga East Hospital for clinical assessment and further management.”
He said the ultimate goal of the process was to minimise the risk of importation of the virus to the population as the nation reopened its borders.
Dr Kuma-Aboagye said Antigen Testing device was an amino acid fluorescent device that did the Antigen test with very high sensitivity over 99 percent; declaring that “if it says you are negative; you are really negative and if it says you are positive then you are really positive.”
Prof. William Ampofo, National Coordinator, Ghana COVID-19 Testing Regime, reiterated that the test at the Airport was an Antigen Test, which was based on the fluorescent immuno acid.
“It is a rapid point of care device. It takes six samples which will take about 15 minutes to come out. The sample that is taken is a nasopharyngeal swab.”
He said the device and its reagents have been assessed by the Foods and Drugs Authority.
Prof. Ampofo said on behalf of the COVID Task Force, he carried out some assessments on the device using samples that were tested by PCR.
He said results from two tests they had conducted indicated that the Antigen Testing device was a hundred percent specific; “that is when we look at samples that have been declared negative by PCR, these samples were also found to be negative for antigen presence for COVID-19”.
“When we looked at sensitivity, the ability to pick up samples that were positive by the PCR, the machine gave us a range between 90 to 95 percent”.
This, he said, they deemed to be satisfactory because the policy for the Airport was that passengers who were arriving were supposed to have negative PCR.
“So we expect that when we do the Antigen test at the Airport because it is a hundred per cent specific, we expect to find that, there will be nobody coming in with a positive result. That is the basis for recommending the use of the antigen machine at the Airport. Because it is faster than the PCR, that’s why it has been referred to as the rapid device.”
“The PCR takes about an hour and 30 minutes or two hours when you load a sample into the machine. It is impossible to do PCR at any airport and get the result within less than three hours,” Prof. Ampofo said.