Antigen tests used to screen arriving passengers for the COVID-19 virus at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), according to Frontiers Health Service (FHS) is able to detect new variants of the disease including that of India’s.
According to FHS, its testing system which serves as the country’s first line of defence from imported COVID-19 cases, remains robust.
FHS, which runs and manages the testing facility located on the Upper Arrival Hall of Terminal 3 of the KIA, says it is constantly reconfiguring its machinery to keep pace with new variants of the respiratory disease detected around the world.
Speaking during a tour of the testing facility by the Parliamentary Select Committee On Health, Dr. Kudzo Seneadza, Managing Director of FHS said, “FHS invests heavily into regular updates of our system. We are in touch with our manufacturers, and whenever there are new variants they run the system checks and update it; that is one of our major costs. We put in a lot of effort to ensure that we get every new variant and configure it into our system. So far, it has been safe and been able to pick up all the variants.”
Though questions have been raised about the effectiveness of the antigen test by some prominent persons, who arrived in the country with negative PCR tests only to be shown to be positive by the antigen test, Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr. Patrick Kumah Aboagye, says the antigen test is more sensitive and helps in detecting the disease at its initial stage.
“Antigen tests pick up the disease when it is very early while PCR may miss; and that is why KLM says four hours before you fly, even with a negative PCR, they request you to do an antigen test; they deem it more sensitive to get the disease at the early stage,” Dr. Aboagye said.
“Apart from detaining all persons who test positive at the airport, sequencing is done on every positive test so we can be able to pick up any new variant. We are also doing random sequencing from labs to see the kinds of variants we have in this country. I want to say that with the antigen test being done at the KIA, the FDA has done a test between that and PCR and it is very comparable,” he added.
Present to welcome the Parliamentary Select Committee On Health and Dr. Patrick Kumah Aboagye at KIA, was Managing Director of the Ghana Airport Company Limited (GACL), Mr Yaw Kwakwa.
On his part, he lauded the airlines servicing the Kotoka International Airport for their continued support to airport and health authorities in the fight against the current pandemic.
He noted that all the airlines have ensured strict compliance with all COVID-19 arrival and departing protocols as announced by the government.
“We are happy with the collaboration the nation has had with airlines. They have contributed in ensuring the reduction of imported cases into the country,” he averred.