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Entebbe Airport: Mandatory COVID-19 Testing Centre Nears Completion

Dr Atwine says that the laboratory has been set up and equipped with five PCR machines, which have the capacity to test 300 samples per hour.
PCR machines are yet to be installed inside this room that will house the Covid-19 testing lab

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Ninety percent of the works at the mandatory COVID-19 testing center for incoming passengers at Entebbe International Airport are complete. The works included setting up prefabricated structures for the port health facility, sample collection and waiting areas, a fully equipped laboratory for Covid-19 testing and data extraction centres at the airport.    

Initially, the Ministry of Health had suggested that effective last month all incoming passengers regardless of whether or not they are vaccinated against COVID-19 will undergo mandatory testing at Entebbe Airport.

However, the inter-ministerial committee postponed the exercise by two weeks to ensure passengers are tested with minimum inconveniences. The exercise was later postponed by another two weeks. Two weeks ago, personnel from the Uganda People’s Defence Forces-UPDF Engineering Brigade started setting up prefabricated structures at the airside.

Dr Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health, says that the government is not ready to start conducting the mandatory testing because ten percent of the works are incomplete.  These include sealing walkways for incoming passengers and test running the systems put in place to assess their readiness for the exercise among others. 

Dr Atwine says that the laboratory has been set up and equipped with five PCR machines, which have the capacity to test 300 samples per hour.   

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Atwine says the commencement of the mandatory testing exercise depends on when the UPDF Engineering Brigade will complete setting up the structures for sample collection and waiting areas.

   

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With a daily average of 1,100 incoming passengers at the airport, Fred Bamwesigye, the Director-General of Uganda Civil Aviation Authority- UCAA, says that the government wants the laboratory at the airport to release results in less than two hours.    

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The inter-ministerial committee earmarked Shillings 70 Billion for setting up the facility. As the government prepares to conduct the mandatory testing, private laboratories will continue testing non-vaccinated passengers from ten countries namely India, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, the United Arab Emirates among others. 

The tests are carried out at Peniel Beach gardens, about 2 kilometres from Entebbe Airport.