Coronavirus: UAE will accept PCR tests from countries without approved screening centres

If there are no Pure Health clinics in travellers’ countries of origin, UAE airlines will provide a list of approved centres

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Passengers travelling to the Emirates from countries without a UAE-affiliated Covid-19 testing centre can instead be tested at locally approved clinics.

From Saturday, August 1, all passengers must secure a certificate from approved testing centres to prove they do not have the coronavirus before they board their flight.

If there is no Pure Health centre in the place they wish to fly from, airlines will provide a list of places approved by the government of that country.

Airlines will accept their results, allowing them to travel to the Emirates.

Pure Health, a UAE-based laboratory operator, has posted a list of clinics in more than 100 cities that are recognised by the UAE authorities.

If you cannot find one, you can contact your airline for advice.

The test results issued by a Pure Health-approved medical facility will be valid for 96 hours before departure. Results from other approved centres will be valid for 72 hours before travel.

The National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority said airlines have been made aware of the requirements and will accept passengers from countries that do not host a UAE-affiliated testing centre.

“Regarding countries that do not have centres listed on the digital platform [] at this time, airlines will co-ordinate with residents wishing to return to the country in order that they can show a negative PCR examination result which has been taken no more than 72 hours from a centre approved in these countries,” the authority said.

Etihad added a feature to its website that enables customers to check whether the place they are travelling from has UAE-approved test centres.

Cities not on the list include Dublin, Manila, Athens and Amsterdam.

But the airline said travel was still possible through co-ordination with a country or city’s local health authority.

Depending on the city you enter, the airline will advise on how to obtain a valid certificate for travel. 

“If there are no approved Pure Health facilities in Ireland, you may arrange a Covid-19 PCR test with a government-approved medical facility,” it said.

“To make it easy, you’ll find information on government approved facilities from the Ireland Health Service website.”

As per the Emirates website, if the UAE government has not specified a designated laboratory in the country of origin, passengers can also “use an accredited lab in your country of departure”.

"If there is no designated lab, Emirates will accept a certificate from an accredited test lab recognised by the local market authority," an Emirates representative told The National.

Children under the age of 12 and people with disabilities are exempt from the PCR test.

Roy Cooper / The National

In Abu Dhabi and the Northern Emirates, all passengers will be checked for the virus on arrival and must also present negative results of tests taken before flying.

Dubai will halt blanket testing of arriving passengers next week.

Instead, people travelling from only 29 countries will have to undergo a nasal swab when they land.

The countries on the list, released by Dubai Airports and Emirates airline, include places where cases are still rising rapidly, such as Russia and Brazil, while others lack approved testing centres.

To date, all passengers landing in Dubai have been tested when they landed at the airport but on Saturday this will stop.

Anyone who takes a test on arrival must isolate until they receive their results. Under Dubai’s rules, if the result is negative they no longer need to isolate.

According to federal rules, travellers must quarantine for 14 days, whatever the test result is, if they are in the other emirates.

Everyone who arrives in the country must download the Covid19 – DXB Smart App if they arrive in Dubai, or Al Hosn app if they land elsewhere in the UAE.

The app allows users to receive the results of their test, if they took one on arrival, and allows contact tracing teams to track the spread of the virus.