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Ghana will vaccinate returning citizens and residents against Covid when they arrive at the airport from next Monday if they have not already received vaccines, its health department said, amid concerns over the low vaccination rate.

All Ghanaians leaving the country will also need to show proof of vaccination, the director-general of health services said. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye said in a statement, citing an increase in Covid cases and the detection of the Omicron variant as the reasons.

Ghana has so far administered vaccines to cover about 5.7% of its population of 30 million, data compiled by Reuters showed. Its recently announced vaccination requirements are among the strictest in Africa, where vaccine uptake has been slow due to lack of supplies and logistical challenges.

“The current increase in cases, along with the detection of the Omicron variant among international arrivals and the expected increase during the holiday season, calls for urgent actions to prevent a significant increase in Covid-19 cases in Ghana.” Kuma-Aboagye said in his statement, released Thursday evening.

Ghana is running a vaccination campaign this month, and from January 22 the vaccine will become mandatory for target groups including government employees, health workers and students.

From January, proof of vaccination will also be required to access nightclubs, beaches, sports stadiums and restaurants.

In the past two weeks, Covid cases recorded at Kotoka International Airport in the capital Accra accounted for about 60% of the country’s total infections, Kuma-Aboagye said.

Data from the airport showed that people who tested positive were three times more likely not to be vaccinated, he added.

And among 34 cases where Omicron was detected, 75% of those people were not vaccinated.

Ghana’s health services have recorded 131,246 cases of Covid and 1,228 deaths since the start of the pandemic.



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