Kampala: The government of Uganda has been compelled to order fresh mandatory Covid-19 tests for all workers flying abroad.
This follows reports that some labor firms were colluding with travel agents and unscrupulous people to forge Covid-19 negative test results to present at the airport for travelling abroad.
“With effect from Sunday, July, 11, 2021 at midnight, the Ministry of Health will retest the high-risk group of migrant workers 24 hours before their flights. This will be done at a free cost under the government of Uganda laboratory arrangement,” the Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary, Dr. Diana Atwine said in a letter to the Ministry of Gender Permanent Secretary but also copied to the Civil Aviation Authority.
Atwine said as a mandatory requirement, all the migrant workers wishing to fly out of the country are supposed to present negative PCR Covid results from a private laboratory of their choice done within 72 hours of their flight.
She however noted that despite the migrant workers presenting negative Covid-19 results at the airport, on several occasions, the same people have tested positive at their final destinations, especially in the Middle East countries where they go for work.
“This exercise is being undertaken to protect the credibility of our health system at meeting international obligations and to deter further blacklisting of our country from travel arrangements,” Atwine said
The decision came after an emergency inter-ministerial meeting between the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Gender and labour export companies.
The meeting came after 185 out of 319 passengers that flew from Uganda to Dubai between June 6 and 7, 2021 tested positive on arrival in the United Arab Emirates capital despite having presented negative PCR Covid-19 results at Entebbe.
After investigations, the Ministry of Health and security agencies found out that some people in labor export companies and travel agent companies were involved in forging Covid-19 test certificates for migrant workers to indicate negative results.
It was found out that after displaying negative Covid-19 test results at Entebbe Airport, on retesting at their final destinations, they test positive and this cast doubt in Uganda’s health system.
Investigations also found out that Covid-19 samples being referred to government-accredited testing public and private laboratories have on several occasions been tampered with whereas there have also been numerous attempts to hack into the government central Covid-19 results dispatch system so that the names of travellers and their results are simply entered into the system without undergoing testing.
Following these findings, the Ministry of Health together with their Gender counterparts resolved to carry out a mandatory second Covid-19 test for all migrant workers flying out of the country to be sure of their Covid-19 results.