Covid test
The UAE will accept COVID-19 negative certificates issued by laboratories doing RT/PCR tests authorised by the Indian government. Photo for illustrative purposes Image Credit: Pixabay

Dubai: The UAE will accept COVID-19 negative certificates issued by laboratories doing RT/PCR tests authorised by the Indian government for allowing entry to expats returning from India, a top diplomat confirmed to Gulf News on Thursday.

These results should be obtained not more than 96 hours before departure, said UAE Ambassador to India Dr Ahmad Abdul Rahman Al Banna.

“The UAE authorities have said they [UAE residents wishing to return from India] should have ICA or GDRFA approval and should carry the RT/PCR lab test result showing they tested negative for coronavirus. The labs approved by the Indian authorities will suffice for the test,” the envoy said, ending confusion among thousands of expats about the labs from which they should get the certificate.

Just in time for the expats preparing to return on special flights from July 12, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has revealed the full list of laboratories in India doing Real-Time RT PCR and TrueNat/ CBNAAT tests for coronavirus infection.

The announcement came on Wednesday, July 8, much to the delight of stranded Indian expats who have been looking for the full list of approved laboratories in the country where COVID-19 tests are being conducted.

They said the news could not be more timely as airlines have begun selling tickets for stranded Indian expats to return home to the Emirates from July 12 to 26.

According to ICMR there are currently 1,132 labs in India testing for COVID-19. Of these 603 laboratories are doing RT/PCR for COVID-19. As many as 373 of these are government hospitals and the rest are private facilities.

Travellers from India to the UAE can get themselves tested from one of these labs close to their locality. For full list, take a look at the link below:

What expats have to say

Stranded Indian expats have welcomed the announcement as they hope the time is near for them to get back to the Emirates.

Aditya Bhatt, who is working for a finance company in Dubai, has been stranded with his wife and daughter since March 12. “I went on a 10-day annual leave. Who would have known I would end up stranded in India for months. I am desperate to return home to the Emirates.”

“I was in a fix as to where I could head out to get myself tested for COVID-19. It is good to see more testing centres added in India,” he said.

Bhatt who has not been paid his salary for the past few months said he is reaching a tipping point. “My rent is due and am paying my electricity and telecommunication bills. It is a tough situation now.”

Vidya and her husband Ashwath Chakkur have been stranded in Mysore since March with their two children. “There are two district hospitals where tests are being conducted. But in these centres, there is a long queue to wait for people to get their tests done. I am wary of my children getting their tests done here."

Another Indian expat Khushboo P was concerned about taking her child out to a testing centre lest he contracts the infection. “My son is eight years old and it will be risky to take him out for test. With no symptoms it is a challenge getting the PCR test done.”

Reena Rinold, who is stuck in New Delhi with her three-year old daughter, is fearful about heading out to a COVID-testing centre with her child. “With the current situation in India, we are afraid to visit any hospital or clinic. Not just that the hospital demands a prescription or for symptoms without which it is not possible to get a test done in India.”