Atwine says the measures will "protect the credibility of the country's health system at meeting international obligations" and also "to deter further blacklisting of Uganda from international travel arrangements". Last month the United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom banned flights from Uganda due to the surging number of COVID-19 cases.
The Ministry of Health will start re-testing all labour export workers a day before they depart the country.
Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary of the health ministry, says the
move stems from the number of migrant workers who have tested positive
for COVID-19 at their final destinations.
letter dated July 8th, 2021, Atwine wrote to the Permanent Secretary at
the ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development to issue the
"Interim measures for migrant workers exiting at Entebbe International Airport." The
measures will take effect on July 11 at 12am.
says the measures will "protect the credibility of the country's
health system at meeting international obligations" and also "to deter
further blacklisting of Uganda from international travel arrangements".
Last month the United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom banned flights
from Uganda due to the surging number of COVID-19 cases.
measures were developed after officials from the ministries of health and
gender, Uganda Civil Aviation Authority and Entebbe Port Health met last
As a result, all migrant workers must
present a negative PCR Test certificate issued within 72 hours before
their departure flight and thereafter be re-tested at Entebbe Airport.
The test will be free.
Atwine says a government laboratory will conduct the free confirmatory test for these travelers 24 hours before their flight.
Mukundane, the Spokesperson of Uganda Association of External
Recruitment Agencies-UERA, opposes the measures. He wants government to
release the number of migrant workers who have tested positive for
COVID-19 at their final destinations. "But even without figures, is it
only migrant workers who have tested positive after leaving the country?
No. Recently the National Rugby team had players who tested positive
and other groups of travelers have tested positive at their final
He therefore thinks all travelers should be re-tested. "So if travelers are being re-tested at the airport, what does it say about the accredited testing centres? Mukundane adds.
also says travelers will have to wait for long hours to get their test
results and they also could easily contract COVID-19 if they are
congested at the airport.
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says the association, with over 200 members, will engage with the
ministry of gender over the measures so that the health ministry
rethinks the move.
The ministry of health spokesperson Emmanuel
Ainebyoona had not responded to concerns raised by the labour companies
by press time.
Hillary Taremwa, the head of
the labour externalization unit at the ministry of gender, is urging the
labour companies to comply with the measures. He however says the health ministry has not provided statistics on how many migrant
workers have recently tested positive at their final destinations.
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He says that between January to May 2021, an average of 300 to 500
Ugandans were leaving daily for work abroad, particularly United Arab
Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Oman among other countries. dHowever, in the last few weeks due to the ban on flights from Uganda to UAE, the numbers have reduced to between 150-200.