ENTEBBE — President Museveni has commissioned the Entebbe International Airport COVID-19 laboratories.
The laboratories, Mr. Museveni said, will be used as government testing facilities (mandatory) for all incoming passengers through the Entebbe International Airport
Mr. Museveni commended the good work by Uganda Civil Aviation Authority and the Army Brigade but asked them to immediately start the process of testing that very moment.
“These people told me they needed a few days to construct a canopy as well, I have no problem with it, but I asked them to start the process of testing that very moment. The rest can come while testing is going on,” Museveni said in Twitter.
The Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja had earlier on cited the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Ministry of Works and Transport, the Army Brigade and Uganda Civil Aviation Authority as having played leading roles.
The function was also attended by the 3rd Deputy Prime Minister, Lukiya Nakadama, the Minister in charge of General Duties, Hon. Justine Lumumba, the Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, and the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Hon. Matia Kasaija, among other dignitaries.
Earlier on, Nabbanja informed stakeholders at meeting held on Thursday, October 21, 2021 that the measure is intended to curb further importation of the deadly variants of the coronavirus into the country. It is also to abet further spread of the disease and guard against the third wave.
Uganda country has previously been testing only passengers from high-risk countries.
The Ministry of Health set up the testing laboratories at the airport and trained laboratory technicians, data entrants and all the other port-health staff to manage the process. The turnaround time for the mandatory COVID-19 test results will be reduced from four hours to two hours and fifteen minutes.
Five PCR test machines with capacity to test 300 samples per hour are in place at Entebbe International Airport. The facility has the capacity to test 3,600 passengers in 12 hours and 7,200 passengers in 24 hours.
Government reduced the cost of a COVID-19 test from 65 US Dollars to 30 US Dollars.
The transfer of testing laboratories from Peniel Beach where private laboratories were operating to Entebbe International Airport under government was intended to improve on the passenger facilitation process to ensure efficient service delivery.
The UCAA Director General Mr. Fred Bamwesigye, thanked the President and Cabinet for the various efforts, especially the financial support to the various participating agencies to enable them install the testing facilities at the airport, which was expected to enhance the passenger experience in light of the fact that all the processes would be completed at the airport.
Mr. Bamwesigye also called for further support to enable the Authority complete on-going projects.
The testing fee for the incoming passengers is $30 (about UGX107,000).
Dr Atek Kagirita, the deputy incident commander for Covid-19 and operations’ officer in-charge of Covid-19 testing at the airport, said they have oriented staff to equip them with airport operations, safety and security implications to safeguard them from the pandemic.
Mr. Kenneth Otim, the principal public affairs officer, said UCAA has been working together with other partners such as the Ministry of Health, Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) engineering brigade, National Planning Authority, Uganda Tourism Board, Ministry of Trade, Security and other agencies to ensure safety measures are observed.
Passengers will go through the port health processes and later the swabbing area.
“We have got swab samples for tourists, VIPs and for ordinary passengers. When the passenger is swabbed, he is going to be directed through the exit of the terminal to where UCAA has arranged a holding place for all the passengers that would have taken their swabs. We expect the turnaround time for these swabbing until the time you get your PCR test results to be two and half hours,” Mr Otim said.
He added that passengers found to be negative will be allowed to go to their final destination while those found positive, the Ministry of Health will deploy vehicles to transport them to Namboole stadium where they will be quarantined.
“We are using a wet run on the staff who are going to be operating these facilities and we will see whether it can take them two and half hours for results to be released to them.”
Additional reporting by Daily Monitor