swab test, swab sample, covid-19 in uae, drive-through screening center
A paramedic staff collects swab samples at a coronavirus drive-through screening center by Dubai Health Authority at Al Nasr Club in Dubai. Photo for illustrative purpose only. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News/archive

Dubai: Passengers flying in to the UAE will not have to fret if there is no UAE-designated lab near them to get a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test done, which is mandatory for all passengers arriving in the UAE from today.

According to travel guidelines updated by airlines as on August 1, airlines will accept PCR test results from laboratories accredited by governments in the countries of departure in the absence of UAE-designated labs there.

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All passengers above 12 years are required to carry a valid negative COVID-19 PCR test report in order to be able to board flights to the UAE from August 1.

96 hours before departure

The test must be taken a maximum of 96 hours before departure. This includes all UAE citizens, residents, tourists and transiting passengers.

Only children under the age of 12 and passengers who have a moderate or severe disability are exempt from this requirement.

“If the UAE government has specified a designated laboratory in your country of origin, then you must get your certificate from that lab. If it is not specified, please use an accredited lab in your country of departure,” Emirates airline said in the travel guidance updated on August 1.

The airline has provided a list of laboratories designated by the UAE government, which includes labs accredited by governments of other countries as well.

PCR rules relaxed

Meanwhile, Etihad airways, which had previously made it mandatory for its passengers to get COVID-19 PCR test results only from labs approved under the network of Pure Health group, announced a relaxation in this rule.

In the latest update, the airline said passengers can opt for locally-approved clinics it had listed for cities or countries of departure on its website if there are no approved Pure Health facilities in their city or country of departure.

“You must arrange your test with a Pure Health medical facility if there are approved clinics in your country of departure. Test results from other clinics will not be accepted,” it stated.

However, “if there are no approved Pure Health facilities in your city or country of departure, you can refer to our list of locally-approved medical clinics to arrange your COVID-19 PCR test”, the airline told passengers.

The airline has also provided a link through which passengers can find the closest clinic by entering their city or country of departure.

“If you are flying from Pakistan, your test must be carried out at a Chughtai or Islamabad Diagnostic Centre (IDC) lab. Test results issued by any other clinic will not be accepted,” it stated.

Results from India’s ICMR labs accepted

With regard to cities from India, Etihad said: “Where possible, the result must be issued by a Pure Health-approved medical facility. If there are no approved Pure Health facilities in your departure city from India, you may arrange a COVID-19 PCR test from an ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) testing facility.”

PCR tests

Similarly, Air India Express, which flies passengers from India to the UAE, stated that a valid negative COVID-19 PCR test report in the printed form, from a government-approved laboratory in India (ICMR) or a certified designated laboratory, which is available on the website of Pure Health, no older than 96 hours, is required to travel to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

Emirates has also listed ICMR-accredited labs under the list of labs approved for passengers from India.

Etihad and Air India Express have reminded passengers to carry a printed copy of their test results.

Other requirements for passengers arriving to the UAE have also been listed under the travel updates published online by the airlines.