The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) has taken over the mandatory Covid-19 testing exercise at Entebbe International Airport.
In a letter to the Chairperson, National Planning Authority, the Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja said UPDF with support from the Ministry of Health will take over Covid-19 testing for all international inbound passengers from private practitioners starting with Entebbe International Airport by 21 September, 2021 at a cost of $30.
“I instituted a committee to produce a report on operationalisation of this directive. The committee included, the Ministry of Health, the UPDF, the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority,the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control, Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and was chaired by National Planning Authority. The Committee report was presented and approved in the National Covid-19 Taskforce meeting of 16th September, 2021 chaired by HE the President,” Nabbanja said.
Dr Chris Baryomunsi, the Information minister, said the position to take over the implementation of mandatory testing was reached during a Cabinet meeting on Monday.
“…All travellers entering the borders, including Entebbe International Airport, would undergo a mandatory sample removal for testing Covid-19….the PCR tests for all arriving passengers shall be carried out by government and not the private laboratories,” he said.
Dr Baryomunsi said Cabinet also agreed that “passengers will pay a recovery cost of $30 (Shs105,935) instead of $65 (Shs229,527).”
He said the current practice where tourists are given favours will be maintained. “…passengers with Tourist Visas will have their samples taken but will be permitted to proceed to their respective hotels as they await the processing of their results,” he added.
The decision was made a day after an inter-ministerial team led by Prime Minister Nabbanja assessed the preparedness at the designated testing facilities at Penial Hotel Beach Entebbe.
Up to six private companies including Test and Fly, Case Hospital, Medipal, Safari Lab, Same Day Lab, and City Medical Lab had installed their equipment.
Nabbanja had said they noted serious inefficiencies in Covid-19 testing such as delays and issues of poor implementation of Covid-19 preventive measures thus the decision to take over the exercise.