Monrovia – Travelers arriving and departing the Roberts International Airport will soon be made to cough out US$75 as fees toward testing for the deadly Covid-19, Ministry of Health officials confirmed to FrontPageAfrica Friday.
“All outgoing travelers are required to pay a COVID-19 charge of US$75 at http://travel.liberiacovidresult.org/Certificate to depart the country to cover costs associated with the COVID 19 testing and must provide proof of payment,” according to a post on the Ministry’s website.
It is unclear why the Ministry has decided to slap a fee on the tests which have been free of charge up to now, but it appears Liberia is following the footsteps of next-door Ghana which charges US$150.00 for departing and arriving passengers.
“So, it’s not just out going passengers alone, fees will also be applied to incoming passengers. Fees will be used for the operations of the National Reference Lab, procurement of reagents and incentives to staff among other things.”An Official from the Ministry of Health, Speaking to FrontPageAfrica Friday
An official speaking to FrontPageAfrica Friday said although the fees have been posted on the ministry’s website, it is not yet being implemented. “We’re hoping to give travellers at least a week’s notice before putting the fees policy into effect,” said an official speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak on the issue.
The official says the fee will be applied to both incoming and outgoing passengers, “So, it’s not just out going passengers alone, fees will also be applied to incoming passengers. Fees will be used for the operations of the National Reference Lab, procurement of reagents and incentives to staff among other things. Additionally, as alternative to paying online, passengers are encouraged to pay through the UBA window already being established at the Union Testing Center on Sophie Road. The new process of payment will allow passengers to receive her travel certificates via their email addresses, or by any other electronic means.”
As part of benefits for the new fee-paying system, the official told FrontPageAfrica Friday that travelers will no longer have to wait in long queues for results. “Passengers can sit at their homes or businesses and receive an electronic certificate with code.”
No official date has been announced by the Ministry for when the fees would go into effect, but the source says it could commence as early as November.
The announcement comes as a growing number of countries around the globe have in recent weeks commenced charging travelers for the test.
In August, Uganda instituted a cost-recovery fee of $65 for COVID-19 testing for some categories of individuals and organizations. However, in recent days, the country has reduced the cost of a COVID-19 test from $65 to $50, a move welcomed by truck drivers in the East African region. Business had been brought to a standstill at the border between Kenya and Uganda, with trucks backed up over 60 kilometers due to the high cost of COVID-19 testing.
In Iceland, tests are required for arrivals at Keflavík Airport for passengers who want to bypass a two-week quarantine. Each test costs 50,000 ISK, or about $360. While the Icelandic government paid for the tests for the initial two weeks when borders reopened June 15, travelers now have to shoulder the costs. The goal is for samples to be taken from all arrivals in Keflavík, although travelers can skip the test if they bring sufficient proof that they have already been tested and do not have the virus.
In Austria, authorities are offering the option of taking a COVID-19 test at the Vienna International Airport, where results are available in two to three hours and, if negative, allows travelers to skip the 14-day quarantine. The tests cost 190 euros, or about $206, but visitors may present a medical certificate which confirms negative COVID-19 test results no older than four days.
In Cambodia, travelers are required to make a $3,000 deposit to cover a mandatory COVID-19 test, hotel stays if a guest needs to be quarantined, and any necessary treatment fees. Those who test negative for the virus will only be charged a minimum of $165 for mandatory COVID-19 testing, and will be given back the remainder of their deposit.
In Germany, travel is only open to those from within the Schengen associated states. However, Lufthansa recently announced it is partnering with COVID-19 test companies to offer customers coronavirus testing at both Frankfurt and Munich airports. The standard process test will cost 59 euros (about $67) including VAT with results within 6 hours, while the express process costs 139 euros (about $157) including VAT and results are within three hours.
In Russia, diagnostic tests being used reportedly return results in just one hour, and are available for the equivalent of €32.55 ($38).
Travelers coming from countries heavily impacted by the Coronavirus can avoid quarantine restrictions by following the German government’s requirements to provide medical documentation which contains a medical certificate on the health status of the traveler in addition to a negative test result. This can be issued by a doctor at Frankfurt Airport for an additional charge of 25 euros ($28).
Other destinations, particularly in the Caribbean, are requiring incoming travelers to present a negative COVID-19 swab test for entry. The Bahamas, Aruba, Puerto Rico, Saint Lucia, and Barbados all have a pretesting prerequisite in place.