Covid PCR test at ICA-approved centres must to return to UAE from August 1

Dubai - PCR test certificate only from UAE-designated laboratories.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Sun 26 Jul 2020, 1:40 AM

Starting August 1, all passengers to Dubai must have a Covid-19 negative PCR test result from the labs specified by the UAE, announced the National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA) and Emirates Airlines on Friday.

This is also applicable to those taking connecting flights from Dubai. According to a joint statement by the NCEMA and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC), all passengers travelling through the country's airports to the EU countries and the UK, as well as other countries that require PCR test, have to get tested prior to boarding their respective planes.

Furthermore, as per the most recent travel updates posted on the Emirates Airlines website, the test has to be done not more than 96 hours before departure. "The test excludes children under the age of 12 and passengers who have a moderate or severe disability," the airline said.

Emirates added that travel insurance with a Covid-19 cover is mandatory or the passengers should declare to bear the costs for treatment and isolation if they don't have one before travelling.

Similarly, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways said if Abu Dhabi is a UAE-resident's final destination, it is compulsory to have the approval from the Federal Authority of Identity and Citizenship and the passenger must present a negative Covid-19 PCR test result at check-in. "You will only be permitted to enter the UAE if you are a UAE national or resident with a valid visa," it said.
PCR test certificate only from UAE-designated laboratories
"If the UAE has specified a designated laboratory in the country of origin, then the traveller must obtain the test certificate from that lab. A printed test certificate is must as a digital version on a phone will not be accepted," said Emirates on Friday.

"A negative Covid-19 PCR test certificate is a must if you are travelling from one of the destinations listed below. This rule also applies to those who have travelled from these points to other destinations and have taken an Emirates flight to Dubai."

The mandatory test before travel applies to countries such as Afghanistan, Armenia, Brazil, Bangladesh, Egypt, Eritrea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Montenegro, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Russian Federation, Serbia, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and the USA."
Lack of proximity to centres leaves Indian travellers in a flux
However, the lack of enough testing laboratories in India has left inbound UAE residents in a state of flux. According to India-UAE travel agreement, UAE residents stranded in India could return during a 15-day window that began on July 12 and continues until July 26.

While several stranded residents have returned to the UAE since the launch of the agreement, many are still in India, awaiting an extension of the agreement dates which ends in two days. Earlier, travellers were required to only take Covid-19 negative test results from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) approved centres.

There are over 1,000 testing labs approved by the ICMR in India. However, there are less than ICA-approved testing centres in India, said passengers wishing to travel.

Isaac Benjamin Gjanaraj, a stranded resident in Tamil Nadu, told Khaleej Times: "The closest Pure Health Covid-19 test centres are based in Kerala. My entire family and I should travel 950km to take the test and return to catch our flight. It's impossible to get inter-state e-pass and travel such a long distance in this Covid-19 situation during a lockdown. Also, each state has its own quarantine rules."

Bibin Salim, another stranded resident, said: "We followed the new rules, rescheduled our flights to a new day by paying an extra charge, booked appointment for Covid-19 testing from an approved ICA test centre, which was 300km away from our home. Now, we are waiting for the results."

According to an official Press release from Pure Health, the agency that manages Covid-19 testing for the ICA abroad, it has the largest Covid-19 testing capability in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia with the capacity to perform 60,000 tests every day. The company is continuously building capacity in its labs and is ready to support the airport with large volumes of passengers arriving at the UAE.

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