Stock Dubai skyline
The Dubai skyline. DED has reiterated its directives to traders to strictly follow the precautionary measures. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: A travel agency operating in the Business Bay area of Dubai was ordered shut after it was found offering polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to detect COVID-19 and promoting the same service on WhatsApp without any authorisation, the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) announced on Thursday.

DED said it was a complete violation of the travel agency’s permitted commercial activities as only “competent medical facilities licensed by the Ministry of Health and Prevention and Dubai Health Authority (DHA) are allowed to conduct PCR tests in Dubai”.

How the travel agency was caught

DED’s Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection (CCCP) Sector investigated the travel agency after receiving a consumer complaint about the COVID-19 test being conducted as part of a home service. DED said: “Field teams from CCCP collected information about the service provider and tracked the channels used to promote the service. The travel agent, through a WhatsApp business account, asked customers to select an appropriate date, fill in their data and attach copies of passports via an electronic link provided, before paying online for the test. The travel agency was subsequently shut down and the DHA was provided with information related to the laboratories that cooperated with the violator.”

Abdulaziz Al Tannak, Director of the Commercial Control Department in CCCP, said: “The inspection teams monitor the markets and carefully investigate any observations we receive from consumers to ensure that commercial establishments adhere to the laws as applicable, and to preserve consumer rights and safety — particularly during times like these that require concerted efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19.”

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He added: “We will not hesitate to take action against any commercial establishment trying to exploit the prevailing pandemic situation and we ask all commercial establishments to abide by the relevant laws and regulations. Our inspection teams continue to conduct intensive field monitoring campaigns across the emirate,” he added.

Daily inspections

CCCP is conducting daily inspections across open markets and commercial establishments in Dubai. DED has reiterated its directives to traders to strictly follow the precautionary measures. DED has also urged the public to report any violation or harmful practises through the Dubai Consumer app or by calling 600545555, or by visiting the website.