Coronavirus: Dubai Police official advises travellers to allow three hours for health screenings at airports

Additional equipment, including thermal screening cameras, have been installed at airports and seaports in Dubai

A picture take on September 14, 2017 shows people walking at Dubai's International Airport . (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP)
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Passengers arriving to Dubai from high-risk countries linked to the Covid-19 outbreak have been urged to set aside two to three hours for health screenings at all ports of entry.

Major General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, commander-in-chief of Dubai Police, said preventive measures have been stepped up at airports and seaports in the emirate, after the Ministry of Health issued a travel advisory on Thursday.

Additional equipment, including thermal screening cameras, have been installed at various travel points across the city.

Maj Gen Al Marri said all passengers including residents, tourists and transit passengers, would be screened when entering the country.

How UAE airports are scanning passengers

How UAE airports are scanning passengers
How UAE airports are scanning passengers

For travellers returning or arriving from high-risk countries, enhanced health checks have been put in place to prevent spread of the disease, including a nasal swab and completion of a health questionnaire.

Travellers should be aware that this "may add two to three hours to their journey time”, he said.

After the test, travellers would be free to continue their journey. They would only be contacted if any further intervention is needed, "such as reporting to a medical facility or self-quarantine".

For all other passengers, basic screening processes would require them to walk past non-intrusive thermal scanners. Alternatively, health staff on-site from the Ministry of Health and Dubai Health Authority would carry out seconds-long temperature checks on individuals using a hand-held thermometer.

"Measures have been taken to screen passengers effectively, in a hassle-free manner to avoid any delay or inconvenience at the ports of entry,”, Maj Gen Al Marri said.

Depending on travel history and test results, some passengers may be placed in 14-day quarantine at home.

In a video interview with local media, Dr Manal Al Taryam, a senior official at Dubai Health Authority, confirmed that "all passengers" would now be thermal scanned as they walk through Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Dubai World Central (DWC).

Those found with high temperatures would be subject to further testing, on-site, and may be held back until results are ready.

However, she reiterated that most passenger journeys would not be disrupted as a result of the screenings.

The extra precautions were introduced at all ports of entry to ensure everyone entering the emirate was virus-free, and those requiring further investigation were seen to immediately, at the time of being checked.

On Thursday evening, the health ministry confirmed a new case of the virus in the UAE. It said the 17-year-old male Emirati pupil was receiving medical care but showed no symptoms of Covid-19.

To date, more than 100,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide, with over 3,000 deaths. The virus originated in China and the first case was reported to the World Health Organisation in December last year.