India-UAE flights: All 4 airports in Kerala set up rapid PCR testing facilities

Dubai - Tests expected to cost about Dh125 each


Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Tue 13 Jul 2021, 1:44 AM

All four international airports in Kerala have installed rapid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing facilities within their premises to cater to UAE bound passengers, officials and service providers confirmed to Khaleej Times.

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In Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, and Kozhikode, international airports have already set up the infrastructure and hired the workforce to conduct rapid PCR tests on UAE bound passengers.

Furthermore, officials at Kannur International Airport have said they are in the final stages of the process and are ready to cater to any passenger traffic as and when scheduled flights resume between both countries. Service providers have said the tests are expected to cost a maximum of 2,500 rupees (Dh 123).

Authorities set up the rapid testing facilities in Kerala’s airports after Dubai’s Supreme Committee for Crisis and Disaster Management said all inbound passengers must have a mandatory negative Covid-19 test valid four hours before departure.

The Dubai Media Office issued the advisory on June 19. However, the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) or the National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA) issued no official statements on when the inbound passenger suspension would end.

Kerala ready to serve travellers in need

The state’s capital city Thiruvananthapuram said it had installed rapid testing facilities in terminal two of its international airport.

Authorities tweeted on Saturday, July 10, “Arrangements made for #Rapid PCR Test Facility at @AAITVMAIRPORT at terminal two international departure - T2. We are ready to cater to the requirements of select countries when the international departure of flights commence.”

Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) has installed the facility in collaboration with Sandor Medicaid Pvt Ltd, selected by Kerala Medical Services Corporation Ltd.

The facility can test 200 persons in one hour, and the result will be available in 30 minutes, a top official with CIAL told Khaleej Times.

However, rapid PCR tests at Trivandrum and Kozhikode airports are managed by Micro Health Laboratories, CEO Noushad CK told Khaleej Times.

“All arrangements have been made to make test results available in a matter of 15 minutes in both these airports,” he explained.

“We have set Abbott ID NOW rapid PCR instruments at the airports. These are approved by US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) as well as the Dubai Health Authority (DHA),” explained Noushad.

He said, “In three hours, the machine can process up to 12 samples. We have installed about 50 machines on the airport floors in Calicut and Thiruvananthapuram. There are about ten swab collection counters. Passengers will be given printed copies of their test results (with a QR code) upon completion of tests, following which, boarding passes will be issued by the airline.”

Noushad said the system is safe as it eradicates the possibility of infection just hours before flight departure. “In case a passenger has contracted an infection after taking the first PCR test, this rapid test rules out all risks,” he explained.

However, Noushad also stated that the task at hand is a highly complicated one. “If the number of flights at a given time is more, our task becomes tougher,” he added.

How does the service work?

The official at CIAL said, “Special charter flights and passengers with special permission have already begun using our services. We have set up 100 machines and have ten swab collection counters. Once the passenger registers at the counter, the swab is collected and inserted into a cartridge which is then placed in the machine.”

He added, “At this point, all we need is the official green signal from UAE authorities. Once the inbound suspension lifts, we are expecting an influx in demand. While we are not sure if the government would change the current protocols, our priority is passenger comfort.”

Rajesh Poduval, head of operations at Kannur International Airport, said, “Everything is ready from our end. We are fully equipped with sufficient infrastructure and the staffing to handle and accommodate as many passengers as required. I am expecting a spike in demand as we receive an average of 25 to 30 calls from interested travellers every day.”

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