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Friday, April 24, 2020

The bloody future of international airport safety was just rolled out in Dubai

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2020 at 4:07 PM

click image Passengers on a flight to Tunisia were all tested for COVID-19 before departing from Dubai. Emirates is the first airline to conduct on-site rapid COVID-19 tests for passengers. - IMAGE VIA EMIRATES
  • Image via Emirates
  • Passengers on a flight to Tunisia were all tested for COVID-19 before departing from Dubai. Emirates is the first airline to conduct on-site rapid COVID-19 tests for passengers.
As the call for more testing continues to grow in the United States, one airline halfway across the world is showing what a reality with widespread testing may look like.

Emirates, the Dubai-based state-owned passenger airline, began rolling out rapid blood-based COVID-19 testing for passengers at its hub in Dubai International Airport, becoming the first airline to have the pre-flight testing protocols.



The rapid quick blood tests were administered by Dubai Health authorities in the Group Check-In area prior to passengers boarding a plane for Tunisia. Results are available within ten minutes, though Emirates did not share details on what would happen if a passenger tested positive.
click image Passengers on a flight to Tunisia were all tested for COVID-19 before departing from Dubai. Emirates is the first airline to conduct on-site rapid COVID-19 tests for passengers.
  • Passengers on a flight to Tunisia were all tested for COVID-19 before departing from Dubai. Emirates is the first airline to conduct on-site rapid COVID-19 tests for passengers.
Emirates Chief Operating Officer Adel Al Redha explained that this small-scale, single flight test run last week is just the beginning.

“We are working on plans to scale up testing capabilities in the future and extend it to other flights, this will enable us to conduct on-site tests and provide immediate confirmation for Emirates passengers travelling to countries that require COVID-19 test certificates. The health and safety of staff and passengers at the airport remain of paramount importance.”

Rapid blood tests like the one Emirates aren’t as detailed as some other tests, since it checks for antibodies and not the virus itself, though similar rapid blood tests are becoming more accurate. In the United States, similar tests have been floated as a possibility for guests before entering theme parks, worksites, movie theaters, and boarding cruise ships.

NBCUniversal had indicated that it is looking at the possibility of requiring the test for all team members and guests before entering its theme parks. However, it is still unclear where they would be receiving the tests from and if the government would agree to them being used in this way. The ones Emirates used were provided and administered by the local government. In the U.S., demand for the tests still far outweighs the availability, with only select individuals and locations receiving the tests.
click image Passengers on a flight to Tunisia were all tested for COVID-19 before departing from Dubai. Emirates is the first airline to conduct on-site rapid COVID-19 tests for passengers.
  • Passengers on a flight to Tunisia were all tested for COVID-19 before departing from Dubai. Emirates is the first airline to conduct on-site rapid COVID-19 tests for passengers.
HE Humaid Al Qutami, the Director-General of the Dubai Health Authority, explained their thinking behind working with the airline to offer the tests.

“To tackle COVID-19, we have been proactively working with various governmental organiszations and the private health sector and we have implemented all necessary measures from public health protection to provision of high-quality health services in line with the latest international guidelines," he said. "We believe strongly that the most effective solutions require close partnerships with other public and private sector organisations."

Airlines and airports have also begun rolling out other safety protocols, include requiring face masks, limiting carry-on luggage, providing onboard beverages with decreased person to person contact, eliminating print reading materials, and eliminating middle seats to allow for easier social distancing. Airlines are also enhancing their post-flight cleaning and disinfection processes. It’s unclear how long many of these procedures will remain. Still, some industry experts, such as Travel Weekly's senior editor for aviation, Robert Silk, expect some of them, including the enhanced cleaning procedures, to become permanent.

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