Emirates has become the first airline in the world to screen passengers for coronavirus using a pre-boarding blood test. The Dubai-based carrier started administering rapid result tests to passengers on-site in a check-in area of Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport on Wednesday.
The blood test for coronavirus, conducted by the Dubai Health Authority, were given to passengers on a flight departing Dubai for Tunisia before they were allowed access to the gate and permitted to board. During the tests, blood is drawn from a finger prick and the results are processed in just 10 minutes. Emirates says that it plans on expanding the coronavirus blood tests for flights to nations that require arriving passengers be screened for the virus.
“We are working on plans to scale up testing capabilities in the future and extend it to other flights,” Adel Al Redha, Emirates chief operating officer, said in a statement on Wednesday. “This will enable us to conduct on-site tests and provide immediate confirmation for Emirates passengers traveling to countries that require COVID-19 test certificates.”
The rapid blood test for coronavirus is part of a slew of additional health measures Emirates is implementing as it restarts operations. The airline previously grounded all of its flights due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but in recent days it has resumed a handful of one-way repatriation flights to destinations like Chicago, London, Frankfurt, and Tunis, as well as Kabul, Afghanistan, and Taipei, Taiwan. Passengers on those flights will be subject to additional new health protocols, which include the stipulation that all passengers must wear masks on board the aircraft and only small carry-on items such as a purse, briefcase, or diaper bag will be allowed. Emirates is also instituting additional social distancing measures at its airport terminals and gates, as well as on its planes.
As the pandemic begins to show signs of abatement in certain regions, new health and safety measures are taking hold on board airlines and in airports across the world. In China, where some domestic flights have started to bounce back, airport officials have been taking passenger temperatures multiple times at different checkpoints throughout the facility. Additional safety protocols are sure to roll out as more and more carriers make plans to get their planes up and running again.