UAE flights: Expats relieved by move to scrap rapid Covid PCR test requirement for India, Pakistan passengers

Airlines have been updating travel requirements online today.



Agencies file
Agencies file
by

Nandini Sircar

Published: Tue 22 Feb 2022, 2:44 PM

Last updated: Wed 23 Feb 2022, 7:03 PM

Indian and Pakistani expats in the UAE have been hailing the move to scrap the rapid Covid-19 PCR test at some specific departure airports for Dubai-bound passengers.

This comes after an updated circular sent to travel agents and airlines, which is effective from February 22, delineates that authorities have not specified the requirement for the rapid test at the exiting airports for travellers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka within six hours of the flight.

Responding to this news, Dubai expats from the sub-continent have heaved a sigh of relief, highlighting that this finally marks a return to a semblance of normalcy.

Pakistani expat in Dubai, Naila Khan who was stuck in her hometown (Karachi) for six months before she returned to Dubai in September 2021 opines, “I was jumping with joy when I read the news online this afternoon. I had a harrowing experience with my two children at the Karachi airport in the middle of 2021 when I was stuck there, desperately trying to come back. At that time there was no facility for a rapid PCR test at the Karachi airport. Passengers felt harassed not knowing what to do.

"Later, when the facility started in mid-August, I remember leaving my house eight hours in advance to get to the airport, because of all this rapid PCR test formalities. My parents who had come to see me off at the airport were tired of waiting and my children were getting extremely impatient and exhausted. But today when I saw the news I was overjoyed. I have managed to assure my kids that things are getting better as governments begin to relax Covid related travel rules gradually. We hope to return to Pakistan soon for another holiday,” she added.

Passengers travelling from these destinations to Dubai, however, require a negative result of a PCR test taken within 48 hours of travel.

They also need to undergo a PCR test on arrival in Dubai. Passengers are required to self-quarantine till they get their test results.

Indian expat Arijit Nandi says, “This is such good news. My parents and in laws have been wary of travelling to Dubai particularly because of this reason. For elderly people it’s an additional hassle. Apart from all the paperwork that they need to complete and the normal PCR test that needs to be done, this additional layer of a rapid PCR test always was a huge cause of tension for my parents and in laws. Needless to say, the test is also very expensive.”

He added, “Seniors find it difficult to sit for long hours at the airport ahead of their flight time. So, the whole travelling time increases due to the rapid PCR test, from the time they step out of the house till the time they reach their son or daughter’s house in Dubai. This news is such a relief for the elderly population who haven’t visited their children in Dubai in such a long time. I am certainly looking forward to having them over now.”

Residents highlight countries have come a long way from when the Covid pandemic started, and they are hopeful the last remaining restrictions will gradually be lifted.

Sr Business Management Professional based at Dubai, Priyadarshee Panigrahi said, “I welcome this move wholeheartedly. With the Covid case load in India coming down significantly, I feel that doing away with the rapid PCR requirement is the right thing to do. For a family to travel back to the UAE, it was inconvenient to reach the airports early for these tests and then wait for their results. The problem was compounded if you have young children, who become restless from such long waits.”

He added, “also, the costs of these Rapid PCR tests were high compared to the regular RT PCR tests and for a big family, doing such additional tests for the mandated members, added up to a big sum.”

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Hozefa Arsiwala, says, “What a relief it is to know that the rapid PCR test is not required anymore. This not only will save cost, but also the time that was spent at the airport. As a parent it’s very difficult to wait for long hours at public places especially for families with young children. This decision is a blessing.”


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