Ghana has raised the bar in efforts aimed at curtailing the spread of Covid-19 in the country with a new fine on airlines that bring in unvaccinated passengers to Ghana. The new fine goes into effect with immediate effect following a blanket vaccination mandate for all international arrivals.

Announced in a joint statement by the Ghana Health Service and Ghana Civil Aviation Authority on Monday, Accra’s Kotoka International Airport will be fining airlines $3,500 for every unvaccinated passenger flown into the country, effective today. According to Reuters, this new policy follows a move by the country’s health ministry that mandates all travellers entering Ghana be vaccinated against COVID-19.

This airline penalty will also be imposed on travellers who aren’t fully vaccinated – which would apply to recipients of two-dose vaccine-types who have only had one dose at the time of arrival. Authorities note that non-Ghanaian nationals not fully vaccinated could be denied entry and returned to the point of embarkation at a cost to the airline, while Ghanaians arriving without meeting the requirement will be allowed to enter the country and undergo a 14-day quarantine.

Furthermore, vaccinated passengers transported without negative PCR tests will also lead to fines against their respective carriers, while ABC News reports that airlines will be penalized if passengers fail to complete a health declaration form before boarding their flight to Kotoka International.

The onus is on airlines to check passengers, officials say. This has become a more common practice throughout the crisis and something we’ve seen, particularly, in Hong Kong- which has imposed multi-week suspensions on airlines whose passengers are caught failing to comply with specific COVID requirements.

With airlines being the target of penalties, the responsibilities of ensuring proper documentation then fall on airline staff such as check-in agents and/or gate agents. While this might be a cause for increased stress and conflict when situations arise- it has been a fairly common practice for several months now, as vaccine requirements for travel become the norm.

Ultimately, the goal is to stop the spread of the coronavirus- a goal that has a renewed sense of urgency with the discovery of the Omicron variant. Unfortunately, much of Africa still finds itself unvaccinated due to the shortage of vaccine doses being distributed to the continent.

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