The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has relaxed measures for transit passengers from Uganda. The passengers will no longer have to conduct two COVID-19 tests before departing from Entebbe International Airport.
This comes days after the UAE lifted a travel ban on flights from Uganda following reports that several passengers had tested positive upon arrival in Dubai.
With the lifting of the ban, all passengers were required to present two negative COVID-19 PCR test result certificates issued 48 hours and six hours before departure.
But in its latest update on COVID-19 testing requirements, the condition was waived for passengers to six of the seven emirate countries.
Passengers now need to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result certificate issued from an accredited laboratory within 48 hours to departure.
Only those destined to Dubai are required to have a certificate issued within six hours to departure.
At the moment, the accredited laboratories include Test and Fly, Safari/Kazuri Medical and Same Day Lab.
The three have set up facilities at Peniel Beach Hotel due to space constraints at Entebbe International Airport.
Dr James Eyul, the in-charge of Port Health at Entebbe Airport says that most of the passengers who tested positive on arrival had forged test results certificates.
“The health ministry has identified some of the unscrupulous laboratories that were issuing the fake results certificates and we have also asked all laboratories to be strict on their staff because our credibility is at stake.”
Another port health worker told our reporter that some of the passengers were conniving with laboratories to dodge the tests at a reduced fee.
“Since the UAE tests all incoming passengers for free, some laboratories were taking advantage of this measure by telling passengers to pay about 50,000 Shillings for a result certificate because their samples would not be collected or tested.”
George Wangaya, the Managing Director of Awel Tours and Travel and some airlines want the government to take over testing of UAE-bound passengers.
“These on-off-on travel bans are disruptive and costly for businesspeople and Labour export companies. We pray that the government will do these tests or reduce the costs,” Wangaya said.
Currently, laboratories charge between 100,000 and 250,000 Shillings for a PCR test.
In October, a few days after lifting the travel ban on Uganda, the UAE suspended Ethiopian Airlines from carrying passengers from Uganda after some travellers arrived with expired test results.