The President of Uganda, H.E. Yoweri Kaguta T. Museveni, has launched the COVID-19 laboratories to be used for mandatory Covid-19 testing of all incoming passengers through Entebbe International Airport .

Even as Museveni moved in to ensure Ugandans are protected from new Covid-19  variants brought into the country by passengers from affected countries  Beijing announced the testing of  tens of thousands of people after four new Covid-19 cases were found in a suburban district on Friday, as a new outbreak prompts school closures and flight cancellations across the country.

China has maintained a staunch zero-Covid strategy with strict border closures, lengthy quarantines and targeted lockdowns.

Civil Aviation Authority officials said that while implementing President  Museveni’s directive a notice to airmen communicating the details of the new mandatory testing requirements to all airlines is to be immediately processed and issued accordingly.

 Speaking at the launch, the President commended all the stakeholders who had played a role in making it possible to have a testing center at Entebbe  International Airport. The Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. 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 in ensuring that the novel global Covid -19 pandemic is contained in Uganda.

The function was also attended by the 3 rd Deputy Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. 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.

 Nabbanja explained that new  measure was intended to curb further importation of the deadly variants of the coronavirus into the country  and stem further  spread of the disease and guard against a third wave.

The 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 DG, 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. He also called for further support to enable the Authority complete on-going projects.

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