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Adopt rapid tests technology, EU urges COVID-19 taskforce

By Eddie Ssejjoba

Added 22nd August 2020 08:43 AM

According to the EU head of delegation, more countries in Europe were adopting rapid tests where travellers can get coronavirus test results in 30 minutes at the airport. He added that somebody in Government should be working towards achieving this.

Adopt rapid tests technology, EU urges COVID-19 taskforce

Attilio Pacifici (second-left), European Union head of delegation and Rudi Veestraeten (right), the Belgian ambassador to Uganda with beneficiaries of the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree programme in Kololo, Kampala. Photo by Eddie Ssejjoba

According to the EU head of delegation, more countries in Europe were adopting rapid tests where travellers can get coronavirus test results in 30 minutes at the airport. He added that somebody in Government should be working towards achieving this.

The European Union (UE) has urged the health ministry and National Taskforce on COVID-19 to adopt the new coronavirus rapid tests technology as the government continues to work towards safe ways of re-opening Entebbe International Airport to travellers.

Entebbe International Airport was closed in March this year on the directives of President Yoweri Museveni as one of the measures to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, a cross-section of stakeholders in the tourism industry recently asked the Government to set a timeline for the re-opening of Uganda's airspace.

They said this will boost tourism and contribute to the recovery of the country's economy.

The EU head of the delegation, Attilio Pacifici, said the European ambassadors were pleased with the government process of working towards safely opening the airport amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, which he said was good for both Ugandans intending to travel abroad and Europeans who want to come to Uganda.

Pacifici also commended the President's recent comments concerning the Government's plan of reopening the airport, which he said will open international gates to tourism.

He explained that it was encouraging to learn that the process was being undertaken safely without exposing anyone to the risk of the coronavirus infection. "I think this is a good start, and it is important that the Government and people who have the abilities and responsibilities and the scientific knowledge talk about this concern, which is good for everybody," he said.

According to Pacifici, more countries in Europe were adopting rapid tests where travellers can get coronavirus test results in 30 minutes at the airport. He added that somebody in Government should be working towards achieving this.

Pacifici was on Wednesday speaking to journalists after presiding over the pre-departure event for 12 Ugandan students, who were awarded scholarships to pursue the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees in various European Universities.

The EU is scheduled to spend an average of 60,000Euros per student per year, with the majority of them scheduled to study for two years in more than two universities located in different countries.

The beneficiaries, according to Pacifici, will, however, not be able to travel to Europe immediately because of the COVID-19 travel restrictions in Uganda, but will start their lectures online until the restrictions are lifted.

"Under normal circumstances, all of you would have left for Europe already, but because of the COVID-19 restrictions, some of you have started courses online, while the majority will begin soon.

I obviously hope that all of you will soon be able to travel to the hosting countries," he said. Pacifici explained that all the ambassadors in hosting countries were ready to issue out visas and facilitate the movement of the students. He added that at least 139 students from different countries have benefited from the scholarship since 2004.

Students compete for the awards on a global level, with emphasis given to agricultural, veterinary and natural sciences.

Pacifici asked the awardees to act as Uganda's ambassadors to Europe. "And when you complete the Erasmus+ programme, make a difference for Uganda in her development agenda by innovating, solving problems, fighting corruption and addressing issues that affect Ugandans," he said.

The Belgian ambassador, Rudi Veestraeten, urged the beneficiaries to develop networks during their course of study and use them to cause development back home.

The German ambassador, Matthias Schauer, advised the students to maximally make use of what he called a ‘life-changing scholarship' and all the possible opportunities they come across.

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