Uganda drops on-arrival PCR tests for travellers

Lake Mburo

Travellers flying to Uganda will no longer need to take an on-arrival PCR test at Entebbe International Airport.

Instead, visitors need only have a negative PCR test before they fly, taken no more than 72 hours before flight departure time.

“Mandatory Covid-19 testing of all incoming travellers at Entebbe International Airport upon arrival has been stopped,” said Henry Mwebesa, the director of health services at the Uganda Ministry of Health, on Wednesday.

The move follows a cabinet decision on Monday after it was confirmed that only a few new cases of Covid-19 were being recorded at the airport.

Uganda is home to untouched landscapes, Africa's largest freshwater lakes and unrivalled wildlife. Photo: UTB
Uganda is home to untouched landscapes, Africa’s largest freshwater lakes and unrivalled wildlife. Photo: UTB

The on-arrival testing requirement was introduced in September last year as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 spread throughout the world. Travellers departing the country for the UAE must get another negative PCR test result before they fly, with tests to be taken no more than 48 hours before departure.

Earlier this week, Uganda also received its first set of 1,000 oxygen cylinders from the World Health Organisation and the Denmark government. The delivery is set to allow the country to easier manage critical cases of Covid-19.

Case numbers in the African nation peaked in August, but have dropped off in recent weeks, with 373 cases recorded in the last week, according to the most recent data from Johns Hopkins University.

Exploring Uganda: from mountain gorillas to Africa’s great lakes

Three members of the "Nyakagezi" mountain gorillas group rest at the Mgahinga Gorilla National park in Kisoro on November 20, 2015. About 400 mountain gorillas live in Uganda. (Photo by ISAAC KASAMANI / AFP)
Three of the Nyakagezi mountain gorillas group rest at the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Kisoro, Uganda. Photo: Isaac Kasaminii / AFP

The East African country is turning its focus to tourism after the sector was hampered during the global pandemic.

Last month, a new tourism campaign called explore Uganda, The Pearl of Africa was launched in a bid to showcase the country’s unique attractions.

As well as being home to more than half of the world’s population of endangered mountain gorillas, Uganda also has untouched savannahs, forests and wetlands and 10 national parks that are home to lions, leopards, rhinos, buffaloes, crocodiles and elephants.

The country also has diverse landscapes, from the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains to the expansive Lake Victoria, the source of the Nile River.

Uganda’s place in anthropogeny — as the birthplace of humankind — is another unique selling point for travellers keen to delve into history.

The landlocked country is a five and a half-hour flight from the UAE and Emirates and flydubai operate regular services to Entebbe.

Before the pandemic, Uganda’s tourism industry accounted for only over 7 per cent of the country’s GDP.

Lockdowns, restrictions and coronavirus hampered the industry, but as Covid-19 cases and related restrictions ease, authorities are intent on restarting and rebuilding the tourism sector, said Tom Butime, Cabinet Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities.


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