By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Passengers from several countries are subject to thermal screening and nasal swabs
Passengers arriving on flights from Beijing and three countries are subject to additional screening measures upon their arrival in Dubai to safeguard against the coronavirus, according to a Dubai Airports spokesperson.
Responding to queries from Arabian Business, a Dubai Airports spokesperson explained that “based on directives from federal civil aviation and health authorities, passengers arriving on flights from certain destinations and/or countries are subject to thermal screening and nasal swabbing upon arrival in Dubai.”
The added precautions are in place for passengers arriving to Beijing, as well as Italy, Syria and Lebanon.
Flights to other destinations in China remain suspended, as are all flights to and from Iran. UAE nationals are also prohibited from travelling to Thailand.
Upon arrival in Dubai, passengers from these destinations must also fill out a ‘self-declaration form’ that describes the health screening processes that the passengers will go through upon arrival in Dubai.
“Passengers have to sign that they have read and understood the terms and conditions explained on the form,” the spokesperson explained. “It also asks some basic travel questions regarding whether the passenger has visited any other high-risk areas in the preceding days prior to travel.”
“Passengers are required to provide contact details so that the authorities can contact them in the event of an adverse test result,” the spokesperson added.
Once filled out, the passengers are required to hand the forms over to Dubai Health Authority staff waiting to carry out the medical tests.
The spokesperson added that while the screening process only applies to flights arriving from a select few destinations, it does involve “slightly longer waiting times than usual.”
“Dubai Airports along with government agencies, airlines and other service partners is working to minimise any inconvenience to the passengers while ensuring their health and safety and that of the staff working at the airport,” the spokesperson said.
In addition to the steps taken by Dubai Airports, Dubai-based Emirates airline also has number of precautionary measures in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, including reducing frequencies or cancelling flights to specific destinations.
As part of the airline’s standard protocols, it alerted to suspected or confirmed cases of infectious diseases, Emirates staff disinfect all cabins of that particular aircraft with stronger, approved chemicals and do a more thorough cleaning than is usual.
Across the Emirates fleet, the airline uses HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters, which have been shown to remove over 99 percent of viruses in the cabin environment. If any suspected cases are discovered on board, the aircraft’s HEPA filters are all replaced.
Additionally, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, cabin crew has also been provided with regular updates on how to stay safe on duty and what to in the event a passenger falls ill.
“Considering the rapid development and the widespread nature of the outbreak, we have fully activated our Crisis Management Centre since January to closely monitor the situation and take decisive action across all areas of our business,” an Emirates spokesperson said.
“This is a dynamic situation which we are managing carefully as a business, and we strongly urge our customers to practice good hand and health hygiene and follow the World Health Organization and health authorities’ guidelines,” the spokesperson added.
According to health experts, the risk of infection of viruses on an airplane is low. Emirates noted that general hygiene and clean hands remains the primary advice for travellers.