Following a public outcry about the congestion and delays at the Entebbe International Airport the government has decided to take over the testing of arriving passengers.
Passengers especially tourists arriving at Entebbe International Airport will no longer be required to wait for their Covid-19 test results.
The Minister for Health,Hon.Jane Ruth Aceng said that effective 05 November 2021, passengers will be allowed to proceed and self-isolate at home until they get their results.
The minister of Health Hon. Jane Ruth Aceng made this revelation at a sitting of Parliament on Tuesday, 02 November 2021.
Aceng said the move will minimize inconveniences resulting from delays in sample collection and dispatch of results.
She told the house that NITA-U will develop a tracking system to enable tracking of an average of five cases per day.
“Travellers will be required to provide adequate information for easy traceability,” she said.
She added that the ministry will strengthen the surveillance system and follow-up all the identified positive cases.
“Tourists registered with Uganda Tourism Board will not be affected by the system. Upon arrival they will be identified and allowed to proceed to their destinations and their results will be shared on their phones”, said Hon Jane Ruth Aceng.
“Our airport is very small, there is no space and we are trying to do everything in that small space. We are hoping that when internet services improve and people apply online, it will take a shorter time,” Aceng said.
She added that there are five testing machines at the airport which will increase to 20 when the ministry secures more funding.
Legislators called for Rapid Diagnostic tests (RDTs) for incoming travellers saying the same is being done in other countries where only passengers with Covid-19 symptoms were being subjected to the machine assisted PCR tests.
“I recently took a test from here and travelled to South Africa and while there, I was asked for Covid results from Uganda and they let me proceed,” said Paul Omara, Otuke County MP.
Elijah Okupa the Kasilo County MP noted that the process of collection and testing of samples is too long. He said the current capacity of the staff manning testing points is too low to ably serve planes with big passenger capacity.
“There are 60 staff manning 30 testing points, imagine what happens when planes like Emirates and KLM which have capacity of more than 300 passengers land at the same time?” Okupa asked
The Minister of Health Jane Ruth Aceng further informed the house that in order to address the challenges that were raised, results will no longer be given out manually but through an online system (email and whatssap messages and display on names on the screens at the airport). She further said that passengers’ results will be linked to passports or travelling documents and this will reduce on the time spent at the airport.