Published On: February 21st, 2022By Categories: Breaking News2.3 min read

Written by Tony Ofungi – eTN Uganda

Uganda has suspended mandatory COVID-19 testing on arrival at entry ports, in line with East African Community (EAC) member states. Individuals transiting through Entebbe International Airport and all ports of entry in line with the position taken by the EAC are no longer required to be tested.

This follows a cabinet decision made on Monday, February 14, 2022. A press statement that the mandatory COVID-19 testing of all incoming travelers at Entebbe international airport upon arrival has been stopped with effect from February 16, 2022 was issued by the director of general health services, ministry of health Henry G. Mwebesa.

The suspension of mandatory testing is due to the decline in positive cases identified at the airport and the reduction in the global threat of new variants of concern. The reduced risk of importation of variants of concern decreases the possibility of community transmission.

Health workers at Entebbe International Airport will continue to screen all travellers both at arrival and departure and verify COVID-19 test certificates.

This was re-iterated by two ministers – Minister of Works and Transport General Katumba Wamala and minister of Health Jane Ruth Aceng.

While meeting with members of the Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) Katumba said, “The government has decided that there will be no more testing at the airport; it will be selective. For instance, if a traveller doesn’t have a 72-hour [COVID test] result and has symptoms, then they will be picked to be tested, but testing every passenger that is coming in, it isn’t going to happen.”

Aceng said mandatory testing for travellers will end at all entry ports. However, he clarified, “As the ministry of Health, we remain on alert for any eventuality. However, the 72-hour test [result validity] for travellers before boarding or exiting remains [in place].”

Following concerns by tour operators that travellers who had already paid for testing online should be refunded, the Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) Board has since brought it to the attention of PostBank Uganda who has been receiving online payments. According to the vice vhair of AUTO, the has yet to respond.

In June 2021, the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control (DCIC) issued a directive that all visa applications must be made and paid for online and not on arrival in response to a spike in COVID-19 cases. With the suspension of testing, it is only logical that a similar directive should be issued rescinding the directive in tandem.

The directorate, however, never refunded travellers who had paid for visas at the start of the pandemic in 2020 even after tour operators had raised the issue during a consultative zoom meeting with stakeholders following the online visa application directive.

COVID updates as of February 14, 2022, stand at 162,865 cumulative cases; 99,727 cumulative recoveries; 3577 deaths; and 15,610,547 doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered.

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