The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sam Kahamba Kutesa has revealed that in the phased evacuation plan for Ugandans currently stuck abroad, government will only evacuate Ugandans who test negative for COVID-19.
The Minister revealed this while delivering a statement to Parliament on Ugandans who have been stranded abroad due to airport and border closures following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Butesa said that government plans to allow the return of Ugandans stuck abroad in a phased orderly manner, adding that these will have to first undergo a COVID-19 test to ensure they are negative before they can board the flights. This is part of the ways to minimize infections, he said.
“The travelers will be required to provide proof of negative COVID-19 test results. This will help to avoid infecting each other on the plane. You may also wish to know that each country has instituted specific testing requirement prior to international travel,” Kutesa said.
The Minister noted that for those who test positive for COVID-l9, they will first have to undergo treatment in their present locations before they can travel back to Uganda at a later date.
Kutesa added that on arrival in Uganda, the returnees will again be tested for COVID-19 and then taken into mandatory quarantine for a minimum of 14 days in a Government designated facility and the Ministry of Health will ensure that by the time they are released to the communities, they will have been certified as healthy.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs undertook to identify and register all the Ugandans who got stranded abroad on account of the airport and border closures and so far, the Missions abroad have registered close to 2,400 individuals who are stuck in 66 countries across the world.
The Minister revealed that the first phase of the evacuation will be Ugandans who are stranded in distant places such as Europe, the Americas, West Africa, Eastern Asia and the Middle East.
“The next phase will then be for those in the neighboring countries who are most likely to come by car or on foot through the borders. By the time we embark on this next phase, the necessary structures and safeguards will have been set up at the border crossings,” Kutesa noted.
Kutesa added that all the returning travelers will be required to meet the cost of their own travel back home as has been the international practice for many countries.
“We have since established that many of our returnees already had air tickets which they were traveling on at the time of the closure and that they would now simply need to update those tickets with the airlines”.