Gov’t revises Covid-19 testing period for travellers

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of Health has revised the Covid-19 testing period for travelers to and out of Uganda.

According to the ministry, effective July 3, the travellers arriving or departing from Uganda will have to present a negative PCR COVID-19 test certificate issued within 72 hours before their travel. Initially, the timeline for testing for Covid before travel was 120 hours.

Dr Henry Mwebesa, the Director-General Health Services in a statement released on Tuesday says that the validity period begins on the day the sample was collected for testing.

Mwebesa explained that the move is a result of Uganda experiencing a resurgence of COVID-19 and that several variants are circulating both in-country and across the world.

Recently, the Minister of Health Dr Ruth Aceng noted that Uganda is recording a high number of new infections in the second wave because of five major variants that have very aggressive transmission rates. These are the local strain (identified as B.1.617), Delta (B.1.617.2 first identified in India), Beta (B.1.351 from South Africa), Alpha (B.1.117 identified in the UK) and Eta (identified as B.1.525).

The latest measures come days after the United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates put Uganda on a red list due to surging COVID-19 cases, with an average of 1,000 cases recorded daily.

The British High Commission in Uganda noted that on June 24, UK Ministers decided to add Uganda to the red list of border measures. The measures will be implemented effectively “at 4 am on June 30.” The move follows the latest scientific evidence about the risk of community transmissions of COVID-19 variants,” the British High Commission letter reads.

RwandAir also suspended flights to Uganda over the rising number of COVID-19 cases. Travelers from Uganda are required to undertake mandatory quarantine of 7 days.

Currently, travelers leaving the country are required to present a negative PCR COVID-19 test certificate issued within 120 hours before their departure time while incoming passengers must have a negative PCR COVID-19 test certificate issued within 72 hours before their flight.

These guidelines came into effect October 1st, 2020, when the government reopened Entebbe International Airport for commercial flights after a six-month partial shutdown. In the first week after the resumption, over 50 departing passengers missed their flights because of the failure to present valid PCR COVID-19 test certificates.

Meanwhile, passengers coming from India and nine other high-risk countries such as the United States of America, Kenya, Ethiopia, United Arab Emirates, and Tanzania have to take a PCR test on arrival at Entebbe International Airport. Also, those from South Africa, Turkey, South Sudan, and Tanzania are eligible for the test.

The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority-UCAA figures show that passenger numbers at Entebbe Airport dropped in May, whereby 77,063 passengers transited through the airport down from 85,050 passengers recorded in April.

Also, the daily passenger numbers dropped in May to 2,485 from 2,835 in April and 2,693 in March 2021.

Adopted from: The Independent June 30, 2021

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