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How much does a COVID-19 test cost in Uganda? – See prices and options

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COVID-19 is a viral disease caused by a novel virus now known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). This virus is commonly referred to as the coronavirus. Since it first surfaced in Wuhan, China, the COVID-19 disease has affected a large number of people around the world and was classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) by March 2020 as the world battles to understand the nature of the disease and how to contain and if possible eradicate it.

By February 20 2021, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide had reached 110,384,747 while 2,446,008 deaths attributed to the disease have been recorded according to the WHO. These numbers could have been a whole lot worse if such measures as social distancing, wearing of nose masks and stay at-home-mandates had not been put in place in most countries. Testing for the virus among those at or suspected to be at risk is also a very important part of managing the pandemic as public health authorities fight to stem the spread of the virus.

What is a COVID-19 test?

As the name suggests, a COVID-19 is a test that is to test for if a person has SARS-Cov-2 (the novel coronavirus) or if the person had had the virus in the past. Generally, the test is divided into two categories, namely: viral test (or the diagnostic test) and antibody test.

A viral test tells if a person currently has an infection while the antibody test reveals if a person once had it in the past and recovered. The PCR test and the Rapid Antigen test are the most popular viral tests.

What is a PCR test?

A PCR test or polymerase chain reaction test can detect the presence of an antigen and determine if a person is infected. It is the most popular way of carrying out a viral test.

PCR tests can detect viral RNA, which will first appear before your body develops antibodies or before symptoms of the disease appear. However, there is one catch. PCR testing is laborious and gives room for errors because of its several layers of sampling and analyzing. It reportedly can give as high as 30% false negative results. For this reason, they are more useful for confirming the presence of the coronavirus than the absence of it.

What are Rapid Antigen tests?

Rapid Antigen tests are used to detect a protein that is part of the coronavirus. They are useful especially when testing a person at or near peak infection. These tests are also less expensive and even faster, hence the name ‘rapid’. However, unlike PCR tests, rapid antigen tests are less accurate than PCR tests. Hence, if a person is not near peak infection, the tests could come back negative even though the person is positive and contagious. This is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised people who return negative results with a rapid antigen test to get a PCR test to confirm the results.

CVS COVID-19 testing

A CVS Covid-19 testing is not another example of a type of coronavirus test. Instead, CVS Health, a health care innovation company, carries out CVS COVID-19 testing. Its testing arm, the CVS Pharmacy is one of the most popular testing locations in the US.

CVC Health is just like TestXpress testing centers in Uganda whose state-of-the-art facilities, equipment, and expert professional services cannot be found elsewhere in the country.

Now, let us get additional details about testing for COVID-19. First, you need to understand that while testing is an important way to combat viral infections, not everyone needs to be tested.

Who should get tested?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should take the following to mind before you go for COVID-19 testing.

1. Do you have symptoms of coronavirus? Below is a list of symptoms of COVID-19.

Most common symptoms:

  • fever
  • dry cough
  • tiredness

Less common symptoms:

  • aches and pains
  • sore throat
  • diarrhea
  • conjunctivitis
  • headache
  • loss of taste or smell
  • a rash on the skin, or discoloration of fingers or toes

Serious symptoms:

  • difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • chest pain or pressure
  • loss of speech or movement

Do you recognize any or more of the symptoms as applicable to you? If the answer is yes, then you should consider getting a COVID-19 test immediately especially if you have been in a situation where you think you might have been exposed to the virus.

2. You should also get a coronavirus test if you have been in close contact with someone confirmed to have the infection regardless or not whether you exhibit symptoms or not. This includes if you have been standing within 6 feet of the person for about 15 minutes or more. You should get tested for the virus whether or not the confirmed close contact exhibits symptoms or not. This is because the virus is known to be transmitted by asymptomatic carriers, that is, people who have the virus but do not exhibit symptoms.

3. Additionally, if you travelled recently, attended a mass gathering or been inside a crowded building, you likely need to take a COVID-19 test.

4. A healthcare provider could also refer you for testing.

5. Even without falling under any of the above categories, Ugandan authorities require people travelling in and out of the country to present a negative COVID-19 test result. Thus, inadvertently, once you decide to travel, you automatically need to take a test.

Note: During the period that it takes your test result to be ready, you should self-quarantine or isolate at home.

How to get tested for COVID-19 infection

If you satisfy any of the above criteria, then you need to contact a test administrator and arrange for a COVID-19 test. The test is free at public test centers except for those who need to take the test because they want to travel. However, if you want to travel or want to take the test urgently at a government-approved test center like TestXpress, then you may pay a modest fee to get your test. Visit any of our centers near you for COVID-19 test or you can opt to first reach us via our email address or phone numbers (+256702199000 or +2560787199788) to book a session ahead. Alternatively, you can arrange for us to test you at your home.

Why Covid-19 testing costs money

Now, if testing is so important in curbing the coronavirus pandemic, why does COVID-19 test cost money?

COVID-19 testing costs money when travelers request it because they take it at approved private laboratories. These laboratories require a fee to provide this service.

In contrast, public health laboratories that carry out testing do so at no cost to the citizen free. They cannot serve people intending to travel because they prioritize those at a higher risk, such as those exhibiting symptoms of the virus or are close contacts to confirm cases. The government has limited resources, which it channels to take care of priority cases. As explained in the beginning under the ‘Who should get tested’ category, there is an increasing amount of people who meet the criteria and thus, this scarce resources for testing is directed to serving them.

How much does a COVID-19 test cost?

In Nigeria, the center for disease control (NCDC) requires payments for COVID-19 PCR test varying between NGN36,000 to NGN50,400. There is also a general cost of about €100 to €120 in other parts of the world. Meanwhile, TestXpress offers COVID-19 testing price in Uganda for between UGX320,000 to UGX 500,000, equivalent to about NGN 33,324 to NGN 52,000 or €72 to €112.

We offer highly accurate PCR tests to everyone, without compromising on quality. Our tests are the most affordable and we ensure the highest standards in delivering the highest quality of service to you.

Some travelers have tried to bypass payment requirements in the past by getting a free test from government testing sites. This was why the Uganda Ministry of Health announced new travel COVID-19 test rules on 23 November 2020.

Dr Henry G. Mwebesa directed that individuals intending to travel out of Uganda must pay for a COVID-19 test. Also, their COVID-19 certificates must indicate “TRAVEL” as the purpose of the test.

This announcement put in check situations where people who wanted to travel were able to get free test certificates at Government testing centers by claiming that they were contacts to previously confirmed cases.

Thus, tests for ‘contacts’ and ‘alerts’ will bear their appropriate labels and will not be admissible for travel purposes.

In addition to the above change, the Uganda Ministry of Health also said that all International travelers must have COVID-19 negative certificates taken within 120 hours before departure or arrival in Uganda. This is a change from its previous 72 hours requirement.

Where can I get a COVID-19 test in Uganda?

A good COVID-19 testing center should be able to provide results as quickly as within 15 minutes or at least hours after obtaining the sample. Test press offers a rapid antigen test that provides results in about 15 minutes. There are options to walk in, drive through or home service test.

With us, you can also expect a Premium PCR test that gives results within 6 hours. Other options include a 12-hour period Convenience PCR test and a 24-hour Basic PCR test. Depending on your choice, we can provide your result via email, social media or physical pick-up. We have a team of experts and specialists in the areas of research, diagnosis and planning, to deliver high quality services.

Our state-of-the-art facilities and equipment are within 10 minutes of the Entebbe Airport to serve people who wish to travel directly with their test requirements.


Testing for COVID-19 is the most effective way to contain the spread of the virus, which is why local and international health authorities are working round the clock to increase testing speed by building and approving more laboratories. Until there is free testing for all travelers, those who want to travel will have to pay for COVID-19 tests.

With TestXpress, you are assured that the cost of COVID-19 test would not leave a hole in your pocket. You also get to choose which process favors both your budget and schedule. Reach out to our specialists for further information on coronavirus testing near you.