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TRAVEL ADVISORY: Uganda issues additional travel restrictions to limit importation of COVID-19 variants

Passengers arriving on international flights leave the international arrivals lobby after they have been screened and cleared for any symptoms of the novel coronavirus at Entebbe Airport, Uganda (PHOTO /Courtesy)

Uganda has issued additional new travel restrictions to limit the importation of COVID-19 cases as the country experiences a surge in cases, signaling what experts call the start of the second wave of the pandemic.

In sent or all heads of diplomatic missions and international organizations in Uganda, Ugandan authorities said that travelers arriving in Uganda have been categorized into three groups, category one, two and three depending on presence and trend of the variant of concern, high transmission rate and the number of deaths registered in the last three months.

The document released by Foreign Affairs Ministry adds that passenger flights from category one and 2 countries, that is India, United State of America, UAE, Zambia, United Kingdom, Turkey, South Africa, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and South Sudan are subjected to mandatory PCR testing at a standardized fee of $65 by the private sector.

The only exception applies to cargo crews who do not disembark from the aircraft, aircraft in state of emergency, technical stops where travelers do not disembark, and operations related to humanitarian aid and medical evacuation.

The third category includes all travelers who are not among the listed countries.

Foreign Affairs advised all travelers from category two countries to suspend their non-essential travels to Uganda while those who opt to travel to Uganda will be subjected to COVID-19 test at their own cost as soon as they arrive at the country’s border posts including Entebbe International Airport.

TRAVEL ADVISORY: Uganda issues travel restrictions to limit importation of COVID-19 variants

Those who are found to be positive, would be taken to an isolation center while those who are negative will be let free to continue with their journey.

The advisory adds that children arriving into the country from category two countries will also be subjected to a test, and if found positive, they will be taken to an isolation center under the company of their parent or guardian. Those who test negative will be let free.

According to the ministry of health, the COVID-19 situation in Uganda has started to worsen.

Ministry of health figures show that the country on Friday reported 1566 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 58,515 and 408 deaths, since the first index case was reported last year on March 22.

President Yoweri Museveni said the surge in numbers is a signal that the country is starting the second wave of the pandemic.

The country is currently facing five COVID-19 variants, including those first found in India, South Africa and Britain.

The country was this month scheduled to receive 5 million doses but the supply was interrupted by the increased number of COVID-19 cases in India where the AstraZeneca vaccine is made. There is concern that India may not supply the vaccine as it focuses on controlling the rapid spread of the pandemic internally.

Health officials say the new consignment of the AstraZeneca vaccine is expected in the country next month.

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