By Prossy Namiiro
The president of Uganda, H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on Friday launched COVID-19 laboratories to be used for mandatory COVID-19 testing of all incoming passengers through Entebbe International Airport.
Speaking at the launch held at the terminal extension, Mr. Museveni called for immediate start of the COVID-19 testing process at the airport.
“The 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.” He said.
He also commended all stakeholders like the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Ministry of Works and Transportation, The Army brigade and Uganda Civil Aviation Authority for their roles played in making the completion of the Laboratories possible.
During the Stakeholders meeting that was held on Thursday 21, with the Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabbanja, She informed 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. 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.