Govt takeover of Covid testing at Entebbe starts today

The area where sample collection and mandatory testing for incoming passengers will be done at Entebbe International Airport. PHOTO | EVE MUGANGA

What you need to know:

  • Capability. A statement by Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) issued on October 22 indicates that there are well trained lab technicians, data entrants and PCR machines for testing the travellers.
  • “The turnaround time for mandatory Covid-19 test results will be reduced from four hours to two hours and 15 minutes [to avoid  delaying travellers],” UCAA said.

Implementation of the mandatory Covid-19 testing for all travellers entering the country through Entebbe International Airport will start today, the government officials who are coordinating the drive said yesterday.

The officials said the implementation could not start on Friday, October 22 as directed by President Museveni because of international aviation protocols.

“It is an aviation requirement that communication has to be made at least 48 hours before you start the implementation. This is also because it [mandatory testing] is not an emergency but more of response,” a source in government, who preferred to speak on condition of anonymity, told Daily Monitor yesterday.

“The implementation of mandatory testing for all incoming travellers is starting after midnight of today [Sunday]. We were previously testing travellers who are entering the country from category two-country [that are considered to be having high rates of Covid-19 transmission or having deadly variants,” the source added.

President Museveni on October 22 commissioned the government Covid-19 testing laboratories at Entebbe International Airport and asked the authorities to start testing with immediate effect.

Aim

The mandatory testing is aimed at curbing further importation of deadly variants of the coronavirus and prevent the spread of the disease as the country faces imminent threat of a third wave of the pandemic, according to the Health ministry.

But travellers from 11 high-risk countries, which include United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia and Kenya, are already being tested at the government facility at Entebbe International Airport, according to the officials who are coordinating the implementation of mandatory testing. 

Testing of travellers from those 11 countries had been ongoing for several months. 

Mr Andrew Nsawotebba, the Ministry of Health official, who is heading Covid-19 testing at the airport, said they have taken over testing from private labs.

”As soon as the President mentioned that testing by private laboratories should stop, we asked them to stop testing people at Penial Beach Hotel [in Entebbe] and we started testing people [from category two countries] at the government facility [within the airport] at $30 [down from $65 they were being charged in private labs],” he said.

He said travellers are being tested regardless of their country of origin, their vaccination status or the test results they present on arrival.

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