- This was after the initial mandatory directive requiring passengers to wait for their results upon arrival at the airport got off to a catastrophic start.
- Several travelers have shared images of their ordeal on WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms after waiting hours at the airport.
- It was an embarrassment for an industry that was struggling to rebuild after almost 2 years.
To save face, for the second time in less than a week, a directive has been issued on behalf of the Ugandan government. This second, referenced S23 / 21 COVID-19 health measures for the Entebbe international airport of the Aeronautical Information Office of the Civil Aviation Authority in Entebbe, replaces the previous directive of SUP 22/21. This change takes effect today, November 5th.
The new directive states:
1. All passengers arriving at Entebbe International Airport, regardless of their country of origin or vaccination status, will undergo a mandatory COVID-19 test.
2. For convenience, all passengers arriving at Entebbe International Airport will have their samples for COVID-19 collected and cleared to their homes or hotels to self-isolate until they receive their results.
3. The test results will be sent to their phones / emails.
4. The only exemptions are:
– Children under 6 years old.
– Airline crew with proof of full COVID-19 vaccination.
5. Passengers who test positive will be followed by a Ministry of Health surveillance team.
6. The handling of passengers in (5) above will follow the Department of Health’s COVID-19 treatment guidelines.
7. In the event that a passenger is detected on arrival with symptoms suggestive of a COVID-19 infection, he / she will be isolated and taken to the government treatment center.
8. For smooth facilitation at Entebbe International Airport, all incoming passengers are required to:
– complete the online Health Surveillance form 24 hours before arrival.
– pay US $ 30 online 24 hours before arrival.
9. All arriving passengers are required to present to Airport Port Health a COVID-19 negative PCR test certificate for a test performed within 72 hours of sample collection.
10. All departing passengers are required to present to Airport Port Health a COVID-19 negative PCR certificate for a test performed within 72 hours of sample collection until boarding. They will meet the health travel requirements of their destination country.
11. Passengers arriving during curfew time and / or arriving from districts beyond Kampala with a valid airline ticket and boarding pass will be permitted to travel. at their hotels and / or residences.
12. Passengers departing during curfew time and / or from districts beyond Kampala with a valid airline ticket, will be allowed to proceed to their destination airport upon presentation of the passenger’s ticket to the authorities as proof of their arrival at the airport.
13. Drivers must have proof that they have come from the airport (such as an airport parking ticket or passenger ticket) to drop off or pick up passengers.
14. Air transport of human remains within the country is permitted if the following conditions are met:
– Medical certificate of cause of death.
– Autopsy report or full medical report from the attending physician / health facility.
– Certificate of embalming (including certificate of embalming in the event of death due to COVID-19).
– Copy of the deceased’s passport / identity document. (The original passport / travel document / identification document to present to the immigration authorities).
– Import license / import authorization from the director general of health services.
– Appropriate packaging – wrapped in a waterproof body bag then placed in a zinc-lined casket and an outer metal or wooden box.
– The document will be checked by port health, and the coffin on arrival will be decontaminated by port health.
– The burial of the bodies of COVID-19 victims will be carried out according to existing procedures for scientific burials.
15. To bring human remains into the country, authorization MUST be obtained from the Ministries of Health and Foreign Affairs.
ETurboNews has established that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) directive has now been briefed on the advice of scientists from General Service, Health and the Department of Health led by Director Dr Henry G. Mwebesa.
Tour operators have been skeptical that the health ministry is relentless on mandatory on-arrival testing, with the ministry insisting it must stop the spread of COVID-19 variants.
The day after the previous directive at a press conference on October 27 at Entebbe International Airport, the Honorable Minister of Health, Jane Ruth Achieng, was determined to continue the initial testing process despite the challenges that she faced at the press conference, such as failing microphones, pouring rain and overcrowding, to name a few.
The dissatisfaction with having to wait after the tests caught the attention of lawmakers from the parliamentary tourism committee who summoned officials from the tourism sector to join the Ministry of Health (MOH), the civil aviation authority of Uganda (UCAA) and other stakeholders involved in the implementation of mandatory on-arrival testing, to interact with the parliamentary committee on health chaired by the vice-chair, the Hon. Ssebikaali Yoweri on November 4, 2021, after which they inspected the facilities at Entebbe International Airport.
The representatives of the tourism sector were Amos Wekesa of Great Lakes Safaris and Civy Tumisime, President of the Association of Ugandan Tour Operators (AUTO). Wekesa reported cancellations from customers reluctant to undergo unnecessary testing and delays while Tumusime advocated that tourists vaccinated with negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests 72 hours before arrival be allowed to travel to their destinations without having to test on arrival.
Much to their relief and much to the relief of the tourism industry in general, Achieng and the Ministry of Health bowed to the pressure.
The relationship between the Department of Health and tour operators has been at odds since sections of tour operators questioned the rationale for testing and charging for these tests only at the airport and not at other points of entry. . Tour operators accused the health sector of making profits at the expense of the tourism sector. In turn, the healthcare industry frowned on tour operators, firing them for interfering in their work.
In a TV interview on NTV that followed the directive, UCAA public affairs director Vianney Lugya admitted to conceding the continued pressure. He said: “As of midnight, since we started to implement this decision, all passengers are allowed to continue after their sample has been taken and they have gone through immigration and arrival formalities. We started with Ethiopian Airlines after midnight; we also received Rwandair as well as Egypt Air. This morning we are expecting Uganda Airlines, Kenya Airways and several other flights, and it is a great relief for the airport and the air transport system.
Regarding concerns about traceability, he said airport health officials have so far tested 11,449 passengers and of those only 43 have tested positive.
“When you look at the big picture in terms of what happened, the passengers come in, a sample is taken and… they wait for the results for about 2.5 hours. Take the example of a person who flew from the United States – a journey of almost 20 hours, including transit. This is the source of some complaints. So someone who is already tired is subject to waiting. Several stakeholders are involved in this affair. We work closely with security, banks, NITA (National Information Technology Authority) and others.
“We assessed the situation and we did give that advice. I can give you the example of Dubai where you are let go to your hotel after taking a sample. I went there a few weeks ago and as soon as I got to my hotel I got the results.
“We received comments because passengers complained about having to wait, which discouraged some passengers from traveling. Signs of improvement since the directive took effect have witnessed a smooth process with some tour operators, speaking on condition of anonymity, reporting that their customers are taking less than 20 minutes to clear procedures and continue.
Tourists are encouraged to book online for priority testing here.