Screen grab from a video released by Dubai Media Office on Dubai Airport coronavirus procedures
Screen grab from a video on Dubai Airport's coronavirus procedures. Image Credit: Dubai Media Office

Dubai: All Emirates passengers flying from Dubai to any destination in the US will have to undergo thermal screening, according to Shaikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation, Chairman and CEO of Emirates airline.

“This proactive measure is part of our ongoing efforts in response to the latest COVID-19 pandemic developments,” he said in a tweet.

Thermal scanners will be placed at departure gates for all US gateways, starting with EK 231 to Washington Dulles International Airport - a press release from Emirates stated on Thursday. If a passenger is found to have a higher than normal temperature, they will undergo further testing. This is in addition to the thermal screenings done for all passengers on arrival as they pass through customs.

Emirates has suspended new flights between Dubai and Italy starting from March 12, with the final flight operating on March 15, Sunday. The airline said it is working with the relevant authorities to monitor the developments closely as the COVID-19 situation evolves.

Emirates also plans to gradually roll out thermal screening procedures for all of its flights departing Dubai to ensure the health and safety of its customers travelling abroad. 

The statement added, "Emirates has also implemented proactive and voluntary measures to ensure a safe flying experience with enhanced cleaning and complete disinfection protocols in over 248 aircraft departing Dubai each day. The airline utilises high-grade cleaning chemicals proven to kill viruses and germs, leaving a long-lasting protective coating against viruses, bacteria and fungi on surfaces.

"The comprehensive cleaning process includes a thorough wiping down all cabin surfaces, in addition to other normal procedures such as changing head rest covers on all seats, replacement of reading materials, vacuuming, amongst other cleaning activities.

"On any aircraft found to have transported a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case, Emirates implements further deep cleaning including the defogging of cabin interiors and misting with disinfectant across all soft furnishings, and replacement of seat covers and cushions in the affected area. The aircraft's state-of-the-art air circulation system, utilising HEPA cabin air filters, will also be replaced."

The airline has offered passengers the ability to change their travel dates without change and reissuance fees on any bookings made prior to 31 March. Cancellation and refund fees will also be waived for bookings made between 7 March and 31 March 2020, regardless of travel date.