The first batch of 2,393 Ugandans —majority are students who have been stranded abroad due to Covid-19 returned home on Tuesday afternoon.
State Minister for international cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mr. Henry Okello Oryem was at hand to welcome the plane that touched down at Entebbe International Airport with 32 Ugandans who came from Khartoum, Sudan.
Minister Okello Oryem revealed that another flight had brought in more Ugandan students and other businessman and women from Turkey on Monday while another one from Netherlands was expected later on Tuesday evening.
“Starting this week, we expect to receive flights from Southern Africa with about 70 Ugandans, from the UAE approximately 200, from Afghanistan with approximately 108, USA about 134, and about 120 from India,” he said.
“A plan has been made to allow the return of an average of 300 persons every fortnight because our facilities cannot handle such a big number at once, after the 14 days quarantine we let them go and allow another 300 come back by that time the facilities will have been sanitised and safe” he said.
Mr Oryem said all returnees including students pay for their transport back home and will be subjected to mandatory testing and quarantine upon arrival.
However, more than 80 members of the Watoto Choir including 48 school children, reportedly remain stranded in the US, Malaysia, New Zealand and Brazil as they were unable to travel back to Uganda before the country closed its borders on the 23 March.
The acting general aviation security manager Entebbe international airport Mr Emmanuel Balungi said the airport has put in place the Standard Operations Procedures (SOP) to ensure they receive all the returnees without any outbreak at the facility.
“We are going to shift entry operations to the new entry point that has a thermal scan, remodel all the sentries where the screening will be carried out and put glass at our checking and immigration booths to protect our staff among others” he said.
Entry into Uganda had been restricted since March except for cargo related handlers such as truck drivers and air cargo crew, a decision made to reduce the risk of importation of COVID-19 cases.