Passengers arrive at Entebbe airport. PHOTO/FILE

Cabinet has approved the government takeover of COVID-19 testing for all travellers at Entebbe International Airport.

Cabinet has also resolved to reduce the cost of testing from $65 (Shs229,000) to $30 (Shs105,000).

While announcing the Cabinet resolution on Wednesday, minister of ICT and National Guidance, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, said the decision means no private laboratory will now be allowed to carry out testing at the airport as soon as the measures come into effect

The health ministry had accredited Test and Fly, Safari and Same Day laboratories to carry out testing at the airport.

 The decision comes at a time when the government is changing its COVID-19 testing policy for all passengers arriving in the country.

In line with the new policy, all passengers, even those from countries with low COVID-19 cases will be required to carry out a COVID-19 test.

Cabinet also agreed to allow passenger visitors with tourist visas to proceed to selected hotels as they await the release of their test results. Previously, all passengers entering the country would have to wait at Peniel beach for the test results.

“It was also further agreed that PCR tests for all arriving passengers shall be carried out by the government and not the private laboratories. The passengers will pay a recovery cost of 30 USD instead of 65 USD being paid today. This shall be paid through a bank at the airport,” the statement reads.

Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the Minister of Health, says that is it very important for testing to take place at the airport to ensure that no new variants of COVID-19 are imported into the country.

At the moment, the Delta COVID-19 variant that was imported into the country by people returning from India accounts for over 97 percent of all new infections.

Last week, the Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja commissioned a team led by the National Planning Authority to review COVID-19 testing procedures at the airport.

The team was supposed to present a report today that will guide on how passengers who test positive for COVID-19 should be handled.