Uganda imposes Sh4,000 mandatory Covid test for air travellers


The Uganda Airlines A330-800 neo taking off from Tolouse, France. It arrived in Entebbe on December 22, 2020. PHOTO | POOL

Passengers travelling to Uganda will now have to pay Sh4,000 for a mandatory Covid-19 test as the landlocked neighbour tightens containment measures to curb a possible third wave.

Uganda’s authorities say a Notice to Airmen (Notam) communicating the details of the mandatory testing requirements to all airlines is to be immediately processed and issued.

This is a departure from the previous norm where Kampala only tested citizens arriving from high risk countries.

The move will come as a blow to regional carriers including Kenya Airways, which has previously said the containment measures issued by some of the countries have a negative impact on demand.

“The measure is intended to curb further importation of the deadly variants of the coronavirus into the country. It is also to abet further spread of the disease and guard against the third wave,” said a statement from the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority.

The Ministry of Health in Uganda has set up the testing laboratories at the airport and trained laboratory technicians, data entrants and all the other port-health staff to manage the process.

“The turnaround time for the mandatory Covid-19 test results will be reduced from four hours to two hours and fifteen minutes. Five PCR test machines with capacity to test 300 samples per hour are in place at Entebbe. The facility has the capacity to test 3,600 passengers in 12 hours and 7,200 passengers in 24 hours,” said the agency.

The passengers will also be required to present a negative PCR test done not more than 72 hours prior to travel.

The new directive comes as a blow to the airlines that are already struggling with the effects of Covid-19, which has seen carriers such as Kenya Airways cut their frequencies to Uganda.

KQ in July cut the number of flights to Uganda from 12 a week to nine citing low loads on the route as passengers kept off.

Uganda is one of the key routes for Kenya Airways with the most frequencies within the region with low demand on the destination set to impact on the carrier’s earnings.