Dr Atwine added that government would first address the risks and ensure that Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) puts in place all measures for travelers.
“There is a plan to reopen Entebbe International Airport but we will wait for scientists to give us a report on the standard operating procedures (SoPs) presented to them by UCAA before a decision is reached to reopen the facility,” she said.
Sources revealed that some of the measures require all travelers to arrive early, wear face coverings at all times, maintain social distancing, handwashing or use of sanitisers and must go through a protracted slow check-in process.
Dr Misaki Wayengera, the head of the ministerial scientific advisory committee on COVID-19, revealed that UCAA must ensure hand washing for all travelers, wearing of mask, keeping social distancing, disinfect all seats and rails and test temperature of all airport staff and travelers.
Dr Wayengera also reiterated that air conditioning systems that operate singly where air is picked from one source to other places must be changed, saying in the event such air is contaminated, it can easily carry the virus to other places.
“The issue of reopening the airport is not purely scientific. We engage sectors and come up with SoPs and then assess them before we can implement them. Therefore, the readiness to reopen the airport is with CAA. We are waiting for UCAA to report to us and then we assess their readiness before reopening,” Dr Wayengera said.
Mr Vianney Luggya, the UCAA spokesperson, said the authority came up with a list of SoPs as required by government and sent a copy to Dr Henery Mwebesa, the Director General of Health Services, for approval.
“We have developed SoPs which we have shared with the Ministry of Health. We are, therefore, at the final stages of engagement with the key stakeholders and once the SoPs are approved, we shall resume operations,” Mr Luggya said.
He also said their development was also informed by COVID19 guidelines from World Health Organisation (WHO) and Airports Council International (ACI), among other bodies and domesticated them.
Some of the SoPs developed by CAA include installation of automated sanitizer at strategic points, marks at the airport to ensure social distancing, acquire temperature guns, three ultra-modern scans, which detect temperature at a 30-metre distance and these will be put in the waiting lounge and rooms of Very Important Persons (VIPs).
Others are erection of executive tents at the air side and these will be used for screening and isolation to identify symptoms and testing for COVID19, passengers will be expected to arrive four hours earlier due to several checks.
Mr Godfrey Katongole, the chairperson of Kampala Arcades Traders Association, welcomed the reopening of the airport.
“Most of businesses in Kampala sell merchandise from China. The fact that all traders who used to travel to China can no longer go anymore means that there is no business,” Mr Katongole said.
“Even if you told someone in China to send you merchandise, you could end up getting a different class of merchandise. Most shops downtown do not have merchandise and are selling old products. If government plans to reopen, then that is a good thing,” he added.
Some Of SOPs
•Regular washing of hands
•Wearing a face-mask
•Disinfecting seats and rails
•Screening to ascertain temperature
•Use of protective gear by staff
•Travelers to be tested before exit and upon arrival in the country
•Small luggage to be allowed to reduce congestion
•All waiting lounges to be regularly disinfected
•No handshaking and hugging
Previously Fred Bamwesigye the acting director-general for Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) said the re-opening of Entebbe airport would be guided by the global health community and global aviation community.
“All our efforts are geared towards putting in place the necessary health standards against COVID-19. But still, we cannot be ready alone. Other airports must be ready as well,” noted Bamwesigye.
Meanwhile, Eng. Ayub Sooma the director airports and aviation security said the first phase of expansion and upgrade of Entebbe airport, is at its climax. “Apart from the terminal building, other works in regard to the airport expansion and upgrade, are at 90% completion,” noted Eng. Sooma.