Kenya, Uganda to deploy more health officers to help clear trucks backlog at border towns

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ELEGU, UGANDA - 2020/05/28: A health worker dressed in a protective suit as a preventive measure collects swab samples from a truck driver to be tested for coronavirus at the Elegu border point. He will have to wait days for the result. Uganda closed its borders in March to everyone except cargo planes and truck drivers. (Photo by Sally Hayden/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Kenya and Uganda will deploy more health officers to the border towns of Busia and Malaba to help speed up COVID-19 testing at their common border posts and clear a backlog of trucks at the respective towns.

The announcement was made during a joint multi-sectoral virtual meeting of ministers responsible for East African Community (EAC) affairs, health and transport on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: A health worker dressed in a protective suit as a preventive measure collects swab samples from a truck driver to be tested for coronavirus at the Elegu border point. /Getty Images

Uganda said it will deploy up to 50 health officers while Kenya said it was ready to immediately send 15 or more health workers and provide Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) kits to enhance COVID-19 testing.

There has been a pileup of trucks at the border towns for the last two weeks after drivers went on strike parking their vehicles and blocking off the roads demanding that Uganda streamlines its COVID-19 testing protocols in line with other EAC countries.

The strike caused a traffic jam at the Busia border town which stretched for several kilometers.

The drivers wanted Uganda to eliminate the COVID-19 test charges or do away with the mandatory testing like the other EAC states.

Member states of the bloc which are reliant on the Northern Corridor transit route for imports and exports had been thrown into limbo due to the dispute.

Earlier this week, Uganda said it will conduct free rapid COVID-19 testing on truck drivers at the border towns for seven days as part of measures to clear the backlog.

The other measures included negative COVID-19 test results from national accredited laboratories in the respective member states being recognized by all partner states and implementation of an EAC Health Pass to enable quick verification of COVID-19 test certificates and one’s vaccination status.

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