What is the current situation in Ghana and West Africa?
As with most countries, Ghana too is on high alert to detect possible Corona Virus infections in the country. Although over 40 suspected cases have been investigated and laboratory -tested since the beginning of the outbreak in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, as of today 11th March 2020, no confirmed case of Covid-19 has been reported in Ghana.
To date other West African countries such as Nigeria, Togo, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Cameroon have reported low numbers of imported cases of Covid-19 infections, but Ghana is yet to see its first confirmed case.
Should I travel at this time?
“Should I stay or should I go?” That’s definitive a question that might have crossed most traveler’s minds recently. And while there is currently no definitive “Yes” or “No” answer that cuts across all travel plans, there are certainly a few things to keep in mind when making this decision:
- The travel risk to Ghana is currently low. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) places Ghana in the risk category of “Limited Community Transmission possible”. As things may change fairly rapidly, keep an eye on the current situation.
- Know the stop- over destinations of your airline. Is there a risk of a layover time in a country currently heavily affected by the disease? If so, avoid leaving the airport and anticipate spending extra time for screening procedures between changing flights. Try to avoid areas with high patient traffic as much as possible during layover time and practice frequent hand hygiene after touching public areas.
- Have an eye on the current situation. Several airlines have announced that they might look into cutting back on international services. Ensure that your flight times are still accurate and be aware of any possible last minute changes.
- Consider your personal health status and age. If you have any known medical conditions or are a senior traveler, consider discussing your overall risk with your healthcare practitioner before departure.
- Travelers attending meetings, conferences and similar in Ghana might want to keep an eye on any possible cancellations. Again, currently the risk is low and business seems to go on as usual, but that could change on a short notice.
- If you are still concerned about whether or not to delay your planned business trip, consider alternative solutions through virtual meetings until a face-to- face discussion seems less risky.
- Know the refund-policy of your airline. Each company establishes its own policies in this regards and might be more or less tolerable to last minute cancellations. In some cases, trip cancellation insurance might protect your expenses. Read the fine-print well for definitions on epidemic outbreaks.
- And in general avoid travel if you are sick at the time of departure, if ever feasible.
What is the risk of contracting the disease during flight?
Airplanes are equipped with High Efficiency Particulate Filters (HEPA Filters) that are designed to filter out at least 99.97% of microbes, dust, pollen, mold, and any airborne particles that are 0.3 microns in size or larger.
Assuming the HEPA Filters all work very well as they should, your actual focus on a possible transmission should be more on the close proximity to other fellow travelers on the plane. As with most viruses, Covid-19 too is transmitted through droplets from an infected person through sneezing, coughing, spitting and similar.
Additionally, there is a risk of contracting the disease through touching contaminated surfaces. So if the person next to you or close to you is infected, you could be exposed to the disease. Quite a few surface areas in a cabin could be considered “high touch” areas and include seats and arm rests, table trays, seat belts, video monitors, seat pockets and the entire bathroom area.
Things you can do to stay healthy during your travel
Follow strict personal hygiene, proper sneeze and cough etiquette and keep at least one meter or more distance to persons that display symptoms of illness. In detail this would mean:
- Practice frequent hand washing with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds whenever there is a possibility to do so. In particular after visiting the washroom, before and after eating, when shaking another person’s hand, when changing a baby’s diaper and after touching areas that could be considered potentially contaminated. Pay particularly attention to any skin folds and creases and include your wrist as well. Use a single use disposable towel (if available) and ensure your hands are completely dry. Turn off the water faucet with a disposable towel and use a fresh disposable towel to open the bathroom door when exiting the facility.
- Keep a hand sanitizer containing at least 65% alcohol close by and frequently disinfect your hands whenever possible and after the above mentioned activities. Ensure that your hands are completely dry before applying the sanitizer and follow the same principles as outlined above. Tip: Ensure that the size of your sanitizer does not exceed the allowed volume of liquid materials on board of the plane.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a flexed elbow or paper tissue when coughing or sneezing and disposing immediately of the tissue and performing hand hygiene.
- Consciously refrain from touching mouth and nose.
- Avoid crowds of people during layover times as much as feasibly possible.
What should I expect upon entry into Ghana?
Ghana’s boarders of entry are currently on high alert to detect and react to any possible Covid-19 cases in the country. As part of their national surveillance efforts, all travelers into Ghana will be asked to fill out a Health Declaration Form, which will be inspected by local Port Health Authorities upon entry into the arrival hall. This document contains basic information on the travelers personal information, flight and seat number, country of departure and possible previously visited countries during the last 14 days, contact addresses in Ghana and questions regarding signs and symptoms commonly seen with Covid-19 infections.
Should a traveler show any obvious symptoms of illness or indicate any medical symptoms currently experienced, he or she will be taken aside into a separate room and the risk assessed by health personnel. Additionally, all incoming and outgoing travelers will pass through a Thermo Scanner that can detect current fever, although temperature screening has been proven to be of little effect, since possible infected individuals might not show symptoms during the early incubation period and travelers with a high temperature can be easily missed if antipyretics have been taken to lower any fever.
Making the decision to go on with travel plans or postponing that trip for a little while is a personal one and each traveler should make an informed decision that he or she is comfortable with.
We will monitor the situation closely and update on any changes if and when they should happen. Contact us for any concerns you might have with regards to your medical needs when travelling to Ghana through WhatsApp on (+233) 20 928 0215 or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be in touch shortly.