The Ministry of Health has defended the move to have mandatory Covid testing of all incoming travelers into the country.
Last week, an inter-ministerial committee meeting chaired by the Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja resolved that the move is halted for a period of two weeks as consultations over the same continue.
On Monday, MPs on the health committee of parliament led by the committee chairperson, Dr.Charles Ayume inspected the private Covid testing facilities at Entebbe Airport on a fact finding mission.
The legislators visited six laboratories including Safari lab, Same day lab, Case medical lab, Test and fly, Medipal Hospital lab and City medical lab at Entebbe airport.
Speaking to the MPs, Dr.Richard Mugahe a commissioner in the Ministry of Health said by testing all travellers into the country, government aims at preventing the importation of new variants.
“There are many deadly variants that are circulating around the globe and these would be imported into the country through travellers if we don’t strengthen screening. Many of these variants are strong with a potential of rapidly spreading and overwhelming our health system,”Mugahe told the legislators on Monday.
The Health Ministry official said whereas many people have been vaccinated against Covid, the same people are protected from severe forms of the disease but carry and spread the virus.
He insisted that it is only through mandatory testing that this can be avoided.
Dr.Mugahe also defended the cost of testing which stands at $65 that Members of Parliament recently said high in comparison with other countries and that the same should be reduced.
According to the Health Ministry official, told the legislators that in Kenya, the same test costs $100, $25 in Tanzania, $60 in Rwanda, £1900 in the UK and £180 in Italy.
He insisted that the cost for testing is fair in comparison to other countries.
Speaking about contracting private laboratories to carry out the testing and screening, the Health Ministry official said the decision was informed by the lack of capacity to handle the same by government.
“All the six laboratories have capacity to produce PCR results within 90 minutes and this has been verified by the Ministry of Health Laboratory supervision team,”Dr.Mugahe said.
“The laboratories will be able to serve the anticipated increase in the daily load of tests from the average of 120 travelers per day to the average of 800 travelers per day.”
Speaking about the visit, Dr.Charles Ayume, the chairperson of the parliamentary committee on health said he would recommend that government considers mandatory covid tests for all travellers into the country as a way of preventing new variants from entering the country.