Coronavirus: Ghana refuses entry to 31 passengers

Ghana has denied entry to 31 passengers who tried to enter the country in the last 24-hours after the government announced new measures on travel restrictions to help contain the spread of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The 31 travellers from across the world are the first victims of the restrictions that took effect on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, from 1 pm.

This was made known by Mr Laud Ofori Afrifa, a Deputy Comptroller General in charge of Operations and Command Posts at the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) at a press briefing on Coronavirus on Wednesday evening.

Ghana earlier this week issued travel advisory and restrictions to help curtail the spread of Coronavirus.

The travel restrictions kicked in on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, at 1 pm.

Mr Laud Ofori Afrifa explained at the press briefing that the Ghana Immigration Service after the directive kicked in was only admitting “foreigners coming back or returning who have resident permits.”

“And even that, their details are being taken and being shared with the Ghana Health Service Response team,” he said.

He said on March 16, 2020, two Italians who were aboard an Air France flight were refused entry into Ghana.

“Infact we did not allow them to disembark because we normally have the travel advice from the airlines and we screen it and see who is on board before they come. So the two Italians were noted on the Air France flight and a joint team [GIS and Port Health Authority] went on board and explained the situation to them and they were not allowed to disembark.”.

“Yesterday, 17th of March, 24 Chinese were refused entry and also one German, also under the same circumstances…”

“This morning [Wednesday], there is an incident at Abidjan, the airport is closed because of an incident on the tarmac, so flights were being diverted into Ghana. In consultation with the Civil Aviation, all those flights were refused landing and sent back. One Ethiopian Airline flight had landed without permission, the passengers were not allowed to disembark, refuelled and they continued on their journey.”

Effect on alrlines

Mr Afrifa said the flight statistics that they have indicates that there has been a drop in passenger inflow especially on the major airlines so for yesterday, for instance, British Airways which normally brings in about 350 passengers brought in 140.

KLM, which could bring in about 450 brought in 128. Air Portugal which will normally bring in about 150 brought in 12. Kenyan Airways which will normally bring in about 120 brought in 66. Emirate Airlines which will normally bring in 380 bought in 174.

He said as of Wednesday morning the figures from especially Kenyan Airways, Emirates and South African Airways brought in reduced numbers. Kenyan Airways for example brought in 26 passengers, Emirate bought in 93, South Airways from Washington which will normally come in with about 300 passengers brought in 26 and most of these are Ghanaians. Ethiopian Airlines brought in 128 as against 250 which is the average.

Land borders

He explained that the travel ban is not only being enforced at the airline but also at the land borders.

Ghana operates 45 land borders with the major ones being Aflao, Elubo and Paga and minor posts.

Mr Afrifa said the ban is also being strictly enforced there.

“In Aflao, we refused entry to a Nigerian, who was travelling into the country from Nigeria. Our checks, the checks we as the travel movement prior to your arrival at the border, 14 days, it was shown that he had travelled from Korea four days earlier to Nigerian, and was coming in so we applied it. Even though he was coming from Nigeria, we knew that he had come from Korea which is in excess of 200 [Coronavirus cases].”

“Today, three foreigners have been refused entry again at the Aflao border, one German and two Australians. Lome [Togo] operates virtually a visa-free visa regime with many countries so a lot of nationals come through there easily so that is why Aflao and the other entry points are tight on controls.

He said the German on the Australians were also refused because their countries fall within the 200 plus Coronavirus cases.

He added that there was an incident on South African Airways and do not know the status yet. He said a Ghanaian, a female who complained of dizziness on arrival was referred to the health authorities since they could not be sure of what it was, so they had to take that action.

“The two passengers who sat with her were also referred to the health authorities.

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