UGANDA – Uganda’s Ministry of Health has said inbound travelers to the east African country now do not need to spend more hours at the airport waiting for their COVID-19 test results.

Henry Mwebesa, director-general of Health Services, said in a statement issued here that inbound travelers will have their samples taken, then leave for their destination where they will isolate as they wait for the results.

Mwebesa said results will be sent to them via email or phone. The new measure comes into effect on Nov. 5, according to the statement.

Previously, inbound travelers had to wait for several hours at the Entebbe International Airport, the principal international airport of Uganda, until they got their results. Those who test positive for COVID-19 are taken to hospital.

Uganda’s health ministry on Wednesday reported 49 new COVID-19 infections from a sample size of 4,389 tests conducted in the last 24 hours, taking the country’s total number of cases to 126,321.

In the same period, 2 new fatalities were recorded, taking the total number of virus-related deaths to 3,219. The East African country has conducted a total of 1,820,976 tests since the onset of the pandemic.

The data from the health ministry also showed that of the total infections reported in Uganda, some 96,759 patients recovered successfully.

The government has rolled out a nationwide vaccination drive in efforts to contain further spread of the virus. By Wednesday, some 3,189,173 doses of vaccine had been administered in the country.

To promote immunization efforts, the Infectious Diseases Institute at Makerere University, with funding and technical assistance from the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), officially launched a project to pilot the use of medical drone technology in the West Nile districts of Moyo and Adjumani.

This project is expected to support surveillance mechanisms, early reporting of any health threats or outbreak indicators within the systems, including rapid response to COVID-19.

Drone technology has the potential to solve several challenges that make the delivery of health care services particularly difficult in the West Nile. With geographical barriers like difficult terrains and very remote areas, drones can solve a piece of the logistical puzzle.

They can transport test samples within drastically reduced timelines, kickstarting timely treatments. The project will be using two different drone types; a multi-rotor for short distances, up to 30km, and a fixed-wing drone for longer distances; over 30km.

This research project will assess the efficiency and effectiveness of drone deliveries as a viable solution for Uganda’s health sector. This is done in close collaboration with the health service teams on the ground, to ensure that the drones actually solve part of the puzzle, contributing to the sustainability of this solution.

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