Coronavirus Pandemic

Covid-19: New rapid PCR tests at Dubai Airports to give results in 3-4 hours

Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on May 19, 2021 | Last updated on May 19, 2021 at 10.46 pm
Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths. — File photo

Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths says biometric passport could be a possible substitute to PCR tests.

Dubai Airports is setting up a laboratory to conduct PCR tests which will produce results in just 3-4 hours and help improve passenger traffic flow through Dubai International.

"We are going to establish a lab on the premise close to Terminal 2 where PCR tests will be processed and the results should be available in 3-4 hours," said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports.

While speaking at the Arabian Travel Market 2021 on Wednesday, he said Dubai has not passed on the burden of medical security for arriving passengers and also kept the medical aspect very un-intrusive that maintained the emirate at the top of the list of desirable places to come.

Dubai Airports CEO said if biometric vaccine passports are up and running across the world, then it can be a possible substitute of PCR test over time.

"We have already got the Covid-19 applications active, which show vaccination status of the people. If other countries are doing similar thing, then all we need is join it up. And through IATA, we will be able to join that."

He, however, stressed that airports or airlines will not be invading privacy of the passengers through digital vaccination passports.

"We don't need to know your health status. We just need to be informed by the authority that is monitoring your health back in your country that you're good to go."

Giving an example, he said vaccine passports would be like mobile wallets, which process payments without notifying the merchant how much money the user have in the bank. Similarly, the vaccine passports would simply be able to inform airlines and airports whether a passenger was safe to travel based on the information stored without disclosing it.

Travel will be even better post Covid-19

Griffiths said travel post Covid-19 period will be as seamless as before, perhaps even better because Covid-19 has been an accelerator for so many things that aviation industry was grappling with for years.

"Covid-19 passports are now possible because technology has advanced. All that horrid bureaucratic experiences that passenger faced for years is now being changed with technological advances and that will make travel good, if not better," he added.

UK's decision is unfair

Dubai Airports CEO said they are sharing the data with the UK authorities.

"We have taken huge steps that kept number of Covid cases per capita in the first wave much below world average. Also, we are just behind Israel for vaccination per capita now. That clearly showed that we are doing everything we could. I think the UAE, in retrospect, will be seen that most of those things were done very, very right. I don't think the UAE has been fairly placed on the red list. They will have their own reasons for that but I don't think we belong to that list," said Griffiths.

He pointed out that there are countries on the green and amber list which have not taken even half of the measures of what the UAE has done.

The UK will revise its list on May 28 and Griffiths hoped that the UAE will be put onto green list.

"We have been assured that the UK's decision is data driven. With the kind of data coming out of the UAE with cases below 1,200, I would suggest that will give the UK confidence to get the UAE back on the amber - if not green list," he added.

Industry outlook

Paul Griffiths sees global travel will be returning to pre-pandemic level in 2024.

He said Dubai and the aviation industry are ready to respond to slightest easing of restrictions and mobilise the capacity of the airport and airline. "The recovery will be very, very rapid indeed. But we don't know when that tipping point will come. Within seven days, we can reopen Terminal 1, which is currently in suspended mode. Then, A380 terminal is also in hibernation mode which needs three weeks to bring back to operational," he said.

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