Businesses at Entebbe Airport become a ghost of their former selves following presidential initiative

Business at Entebbe International Airport has come to a halt following the implementation of the presidential directive to suspend passenger aircraft movements in and out of the Airport for 32 days as one of the measures to prevent the spread of Covid 19 in the country.

The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) spokesperson Mr Vianney Luggya said the only exceptions will be cargo flights, emergency flight operations and over flights over Uganda’s airspace.

The abandoned check in counters. Photo by Entebbe post

“The last passenger flights happened on Sunday 23rd March before midnight, the last day before the closure, a lot of traffic was recorded with flights going in and out full, those going out were mainly carrying foreigners and those coming in had a lot of Ugandans coming home” he said.

Mr Luggya made the remarks while addressing journalists during a joint tour with ministry of health officials on the implementation of the directive, during the tour, Entebbe Post observed very little activity at the Airport with only security and cleaners going about their daily routines, restaurants, bars, duty free shops and airline operator’s offices remain closed. The immigration desks and check in counters empty, sanitizers at different points of the airport with only the cargo section operating as daily, Airport taxis were not in sight also.

A worker cleans the immigration desks area at the departures section. Photo by Entebbe Post

Mr Luggya said there was a drop in passenger traffic last month attributed to countries closing their airspace and airlines cancelling flights and reduction of passengers traveling due to the corona virus outbreak.

“Passenger numbers in and out of Entebbe International airport have been growing, in 2019 we registered about 1.9 million passengers, in January this year we recorded about 150,000 passengers, the number dropped a bit in February to 140,000 passengers, in the first two weeks of March there was a drop of about 60 percent prior to the suspension of flights” he said.

The deserted Apron at Entebbe International Airport. Photo by Entebbe post

Mr Luggya dismissed reports that people were being quarantined at the airport.

“Many People came in, there are those from category one countries who certainly have to undergo the 14 day quarantine, there was that process that the health teams had to sort out those going into quarantine which may have taken a bit of time in some instances but we didn’t keep anyone here” he said.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) spokesperson Mr Emmanuel Ainebyona said health teams have been screening all passengers that have been arriving at the Airport disregarding earlier social media reports of some passengers skipping the screening process on Sunday evening.

“All the passengers who returned on sunday are undergoing institutional quarantine, statistics of those who went under quarantine yesterday are not yet available but we will inform the public after the teams have filed a situational report” he said.

Mr Ainebyona said the ministry is still undertaking contact tracing of the passengers that were on board Ethiopian Airlines with the first confirmed corona virus victim in Uganda.

The four Uganda Airlines planes are currently packed at the Apron at Entebbe International Airport. Photo by Entebbe post

“So far all the family members of the first confirmed case have tested negative of Covid 19 which implies the infection was imported from where he came from, he is in a stable condition recovering at Entebbe grade B hospital and we expect to conduct another test in seven days to establish whether the virus has ben flushed out of his body” he said.    Mr Ainebyona said the health experts who have been screening at the airport are going to be redistributed to support other sections of responding to the corona emergency

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