Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of health will start conducting instant COVID-19 tests at the Uganda-Kenyan border in Malaba this weekend. The announcement comes amid public uproar on the number of imported cases of coronavirus disease COVID-19, mainly among truck drivers.
This morning, the ministry of health announced that 13 truck drivers had tested positive to the virus pushing Uganda’s caseload to 114 people. Seven of the cases were Kenyans from among 2,421 samples collected from truck drivers on May 8, 2020. The other included four Ugandans and two Tanzanian nationals.
The Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Dr Diana Atwine says that they are setting up laboratories at the border with the hope that the stations start running this weekend. She says that with this in place, truck drivers will get their results within hours instead of waiting for the next day.
Atwine says that the process could start between Sunday and Monday specifically for the Malaba border which will handle the drivers entering the country from the Kenyan side. The drivers from Tanzania will be tested from Mutukula as soon as the laboratory is complete according to Atwine.
“For Mutukula, the engineers went and measured the space there to be sure that the biosafety cabins will fit, so we will see if the machines can fit in the space that we already have in Mutukula instead of starting to construct a new one” Atwine said.
She adds that if resources allow, the Elegu border point which will test travellers and drivers from South Sudan will also be set up. Atwine adds that the ministry is considering transferring bio-safety cabins from some hospitals to set up labs at the borders where the testing is much needed.
Because all testing is done at the Uganda Virus Research Institute, the processes of receiving COVID-19 results has been slow, with results getting back a day or two after the truck drivers have gone according to Atek Kagirita the Ministry’s COVID-19 incidence manager.
UVRI Director Dr Pontiano Kaleebu says having the labs at the borders will ease the process of testing and managing truck drivers.