Since the beginning of June, the DRC has been battling its third wave of the coronavirus pandemic. In response, health authorities are strengthening their control and surveillance measures, especially on travellers from abroad.
To obtain a PCR test, a foreign traveler, regardless of the country of departure, needs to register online with the National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB), located in Kinshasa. The instructions are clear on this subject. According to the INRB website, “passengers arriving in the DRC are subject to a Covid19 PCR test at the airport of entry. Passengers are asked, prior to boarding the plane in the country of departure, to register online and obtain a QR code to present upon arrival at the arrival airports collection centre. There is a $45 fee for the test.
With both an over the counter and online option, the site offers two payment methods. However, foreign travellers to the city of Lubumbashi in southern DRC who pay online, are forced to pay another $45 for the Covid19 PCR test upon arrival at the Luano airport. Testimonies from some passengers indicate that the human quarantine department that manages the collection centre at Lubumbashi airport does not take into consideration the payment of fees processed online. According to the passengers, the agents assigned to this centre say, and I quote, “the online payment for the Covid 19 PCR test is valid for Kinshasa and not for Lubumbashi”. Traveller’s from abroad have extensively complained about the malfunctioning of this service.
For its part, the quarantine service in charge of the sampling centre at the Luano airport in Lubumbashi did not want to react to these accusations, indicating that it is only a technical service of the Ministry of Health. However, a source within this service, who preferred to remain anonymous, told us that there is no double payment for the test. For him, “the online payment is not functional”. However, our source was keen to point out that the PCR test, completed by a foreign traveler arriving in the DRC, clears their medical status and provides necessary reassurance to the health authorities.
Denise Mwami for M&B Magazine
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