#Uganda halts PCR tests on arrival for everyone


(Posted 17th September 2021)

Uganda’s tourism industry has escaped a proverbial death sentence after the government has at the very last moment given in to pressure to abandon the nonsensical PCR test on arrival for everyone requirements which hapless bureaucrats had drawn up.
First due to come into effect in early September was the implementation then halted to review facilities and capacity to actually carry out such tests within the suggested time frame of 3 to 4 hours, while also ensuring that physical distancing requirements, among others, could be fully observed.
Following additional inspections and reviews of Uganda’s capacity to actually carry out such tests in an environment safe for arrival travelers, and to a large part due to a social media s***storm and a pile up of cancellations of travel arrangements to Uganda, was it then decided to stop the nonsense once and for all.


The Government of the Republic of Uganda has issued the following directives effective 16th September, 2021 until further notice, on COVID-19 health measures at Entebbe International Airport:

  1. All travelers whose body temperature is NOT above 37.5°C (99.5°F), do not have a persistent cough, difficulty in breathing or other flu-like symptoms; have negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test certificate carried out within 72 hours from the time of sample collection shall be allowed to enter or depart Uganda in compliance with categorization in 3 below:

  2. i. Entebbe International Airport Port Health shall approve for arrival or departure a negative PCR COVID-19 test certificate undertaken within 72 hours from the time of sample collection. This excludes transit time at the terminal building.
    ii. For travelers presenting with COVID-19 signs and symptoms or other infectious disease will be subjected to secondary screening and will be taken for further management. If found to have an infectious disease, they will be taken for further management at the infectious disease hospital.
    iii.Travelers without a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate undertaken within 72 hours from the time of sample collection will not be allowed into Uganda.
    iv.Travelers departing EIA are required to know, understand, and interpret COVID-19 requirements of the country they are travelling to.
    v.Travelers who have had COVID-19 vaccination and hold a certificate must still present a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate taken within 72 hours from the time of sample collection to boarding aircraft. This is because the vaccine is not 100% protective and it also takes several days/weeks to begin protection.
    vi.Individuals who test positive to COVID-19 test shall be treated according to the Ministry of Health protocol for COVID-
  3. All crew who want to enter Uganda shall have a valid negative COVID-19 PCR test after every 14 days.
    i. All arriving passengers from category 2 will be subjected to a COVID-19 PCR test on arrival in Uganda in addition to the negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate taken within 72 hours from the time of sample collection to first
    ii. Affected countries include;
    a. Category 1- None
    c. Category 3 – All countries not in Category 2. These will not be subject to COVID-19 PCR test.
    b. Category 2- India, United States of America, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Turkey, South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and South Sudan.
    iii. Individuals from Category 2 countries (except India) who have received full COVID-19 vaccination and have no signs of COVID-19 will be exempted from the PCR tests. Travelers from India shall be subjected to mandatory PCR testing
    upon arrival irrespective of vaccination status.

End Quote

This finally recognizes global best practice that full vaccinations, combined with a PCR test taken prior to departure for Uganda – within the stipulated time frame and by a recognized testing laboratory – will be enough for tourists and business travelers, but also visiting friends and relatives to enter Uganda.

What now remains to be restored is the Visa On Arrival facility, which in the hype over COVID19 was also scrapped, also impacting on visitor numbers to the country.

Said a leading member of the Ugandan travel trade, for obvious reasons wishing to remain anonymous, to ATCNews: ‘These brainless bureaucrats who hatched this scheme nearly killed what was left of our industry. The government has done little since the country was first locked down in March last year to assist the sector except for empty promises and hot air. Uganda’s competitors were already laughing all the way to the bank if these rules had been implemented at Entebbe airport. At least I am happy to see those rules changed to a way which can actually be carried out because PCR tests for everyone arriving in Entebbe would have caused absolute chaos.
Now we have to work hard to undo the damage these uncertainties have caused and are hopefully spared for any further such nonsense in the future.

See the link for the official announcement:

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