Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the Minister of Health, told our reporter that the "swab and go" move was based on a scientific assessment of the tests done in the last five days of mandatory testing at the airport. Aceng says only 34 of the 700 passengers tested in that period were positive for COVID-19.
At the moment all passengers are subjected to a mandatory COVID-19 test and held in a waiting area at the airport for not less than two hours after their arrival while waiting for their results. Those who test negative are allowed to continue to their destinations, while those who test positive are sent to medical facilities.
According to the Ministry of Health, deportees are exempted from the payments. But on Wednesday, 43 deportees were asked to pay for the tests or risk sleeping at the airport. The deportees landed around 1 pm aboard Ethiopian Airlines and were held in the waiting area.
Joel Ssenyonyi, who is COSASE chairperson and Nakawa West MP, and the other committee members including Mpindi, Alex Ruhunda of Fort Portal Central Division questioned UCAA officials about the absence of rumps at the existing passenger terminal buildings and also the modified building that will be an extension for the current departures and arrivals sections.
The 259- capacity Airbus A380-800 Neo aircraft left Entebbe International Airport after 12:18 pm on Monday, with 76 passengers in its economy class and five other flying business class. The maiden flight to Dubai was initially scheduled to take place at an earlier date but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The move is one of the strategies Dr. Atwine told our reporter that the ministry plans to implement as a result of identifying loopholes in the current exercise of testing only unvaccinated passengers from ten countries namely India, South Sudan, Kenya, United Arab Emirates and Tanzania.
Airport taxi operators led by Jackson Sserubidde, the chairperson of Airport Taxi Services Cooperative Society Ltdsay that the testing centre has affected the number of passengers they carry daily because eligible travellers spend about four hours at the centre.
Six health workers have been deployed at the arrivals section of the airport while others are manning the testing centre that has been set up at gardens of Peniel Beach Hotel. The gardens are less than one kilometre from the airport.
Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the spokesperson at the health ministry, says that since May 10, 2,200 travelers have been tested at the new centre. Of these, 18 have tested positive and are being handled at various hospitals including Entebbe Regional Referral Hospital, which is less than 2 kilometres from the airport.
Eng. Henry Ngobi, the chief engineer at Uganda Civil Aviation Authority-UCAA told the committee member during their oversight visit that at least 79 per cent of the project is complete. He said the project executed by China Communication Construction Company (CCCC) is expected to be completed on May 05th, 2021.
Over 20 ministers including the vice president and Bukoto Central MP, Edward Ssekandi, the Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa (Kiboga woman MP), Rosemary Sseninde (Wakiso Woman MP) and Kasirivu Atwooki (Bugangaizi West County) lost their parliamentary seats in the recent polls.
Our reporter visited the airport on Saturday and saw police officers manning the check point at the main entrance asking the excess passengers to alight from the vehicle and wait in the compound next to Mogas pump fuel station. The officers said they had turned away to 50 people ever since they started enforcing the new directive on Saturday.