Following a decision by the ministry of health, all incoming passengers through Entebbe airport will no longer have to wait for their COVID-19 results effective today (November 05). Upon taking their samples, all incoming passengers who are subjected to mandatory COVID-19 testing, are now allowed to proceed to respective destinations pending their results. This was confirmed by the parliamentary committee on health during their visit to Entebbe airport on Thursday.
After the samples are collected from arriving passengers and they go through the arrival process, they are now allowed to leave the airport and required to self-isolate. Results are then sent to each passenger’s email address, through a WhatsApp or text message.
Led by Joel Ssebikaali, the vice chairperson of the committee, legislators noted that since the mandatory testing began a week ago, 11,449 passengers have so far been tested, out of whom, 49 were found positive. Ssebikaali expressed fear that more people will most likely contract the COVID-19 virus while waiting for their results, which could be attributed to congestion and over waiting while at the airport.
In case any of the collected samples tested positive of COVID-19, legislators found it better to track them, than having to wait for two hours at the airport. Notwithstanding the challenges that come with tracking COVID-19 cases, members on the health committee expressed no intention of releasing supplementary funds for such activity hence, implored the health ministry to find money within the available budget to cater for that.
Fred Bamwesigye, the director general for the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) said the decision will go a long way in minimising passenger processing time through the airport, and subsequently the bulk of complaints arising from the time spent waiting at the airport. “Enormous challenges have been experienced in the first few days with understandable complaints from passengers, especially in relation to waiting time,” noted Bamwesigye.
However, Margaret Ayebare, a woman member of parliament representing Mbarara district expressed concerns over the government’s capacity to track all persons who will have tested positive, saying, apart from hardships in finding transport means, other people may deliberately decide to switch off their phones to elude being tracked for treatment.