Uganda govt cuts COVID-19 testing cost, takes over service at airport

Uganda govt cuts COVID-19 testing cost, takes over service at airport
A lab technician uses a single channel pipette dropper to test material during COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test processing at a laboratory in the Dunkeld suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa, on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Kampala, Uganda | URN | The Government of Uganda is going to take over the COVID-19 testing for all passengers arriving at Entebbe International Airport, according to a cabinet decision.

The Ministry of Health had accredited three laboratories to carry out testing at the airport. The three; Test and Fly, Safari and Same Day laboratories were charging USD 65 (229,000 Shillings) for every test conducted. However, the government has since resolved to reduce the cost to USD 30 (105,000 Shillings).

According to the minister of ICT and National Guidance Dr Chris Baryomunsi, no private laboratory will now be allowed to carry out testing at the airport as soon as the measures come into effect. The decision comes at a time when the government is changing its COVID-19 testing policy for all passengers arriving in the country.

In line with the new policy, all passengers, even those from countries with low COVID-19 cases will be required to carry out a COVID-19 test. Cabinet also agreed to allow passenger visitors with tourist visas to proceed to selected hotels as they await the release of their test results. Previously, all passengers entering the country would have to wait at Peniel beach for the test results.

“It was also further agreed that PCR tests for all arriving passengers shall be carried out by the government and not the private laboratories. The passengers will pay a recovery cost of $30 USD instead of $65 USD being paid today. This shall be paid through a bank at the airport,” the statement reads.

Read Also: Uganda suspends mandatory COVID-19 testing at Etebbe Airport

Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the Minister of Health in July told this publication that is it very important for testing to take place at the airport to ensure that no new variants of COVID-19 are imported into the country.

At the moment, the Delta COVID-19 variant that was imported into the country by people returning from India accounts for over 97 per cent of all new infections.

Last week, the Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja commissioned a team led by the National Planning Authority to review COVID-19 testing procedures at the airport.

The team was supposed to present a report on Wednesday 15, September 2021 that will guide on how passengers who test positive for COVID-19 should be handled.