The Ghanaian authorities say the country has recorded a new variant of COVID-19.
About 33 countries have reported cases of the new COVID-19 variant which was first discovered in the United Kingdom last December.
According to President Akufo-Addo, the new strain was recorded among passengers at the Kotoka International Airport following tests conducted on some travellers.
Schools were reopened fully on Monday after several months of closure. However, the country’s case count has seen an upsurge in recent times with a daily record of an average of 200 cases.
As of Tuesday, Ghana’s COVID-19 cases stood at 58,065 with 352 deaths.
As a result of this, the Ghanaian president announced that safety measures have been enhanced at the airport to ensure that the spread is controlled, adding that contract tracing is being done to know the extent to which the new strain has penetrated the country.
He said all arriving passengers who test positive for the disease will undergo mandatory isolation for a period of seven days, and that the cost will be borne by the government.
“Recent genomic sequencing undertaken by our scientists have established that some arriving passengers tested positive for new variants of COVID-19. These passengers have all been isolated,” Akufo-Addo said.
“Furthermore, work is ongoing to determine the presence and extent of spread of the new variants in the general population.”
“As of 1 January 2021, a total of seven hundred and twelve (712) positive cases out of one hundred and eighteen thousand, two hundred and seventy-eight (118, 278) tests conducted have been recorded among international arrivals at the Kotoka International Airport.
“Indeed, the month of December alone recorded three hundred and eighty-seven (387) cases. The positivity rate among international arrivals rose from 0.26% in September to 0.93% in December.
“These developments call for a strengthening of the existing protocols to prevent the spread of the disease in Ghana, in light of the new variant of the virus.
“Therefore, the following measures will be implemented, in addition to existing guidelines on international travel for COVID-19, in Ghana:
“All arriving passengers who test positive for COVID-19, asymptomatic or not, will undergo mandatory isolation and treatment at a designated health facility or isolation centre. The isolation will be for a period of seven (7) days at the cost of the Government. However, the final discharge of cases will be based on existing case management guidelines and protocols;
“All passengers who are in isolation will undergo a repeat COVID-19 test within twenty-four (24) hours of arrival, with the cost also borne by government. This test will also include genomic sequencing for COVID-19.”