In what raises concerns over standards of Covid testing in India, the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) has asked Air India Express to reject passengers with Covid test reports from four laboratories reporting to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
The laboratories are Suryam Lab in Jaipur, Microhealth Lab in the cities of Kerala, Dr P Bhasin Pathlabs (Private) Limited and Noble Diagnostic Centre in Delhi, the airline said on Twitter.
The move has come 10 days after the Dubai administration suspended Air India Express from flying to the emirate for two weeks for carrying two passengers with Covid-positive test reports on separate occasions. The ban was overturned 24 hours after it was announced after the airline “profusely apologised”.
According to the rules in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with which India has an air bubble arrangement, passengers must have an RT-PCR test report certifying them negative for Covid-19 to be accepted for any inbound flight. The test should have been conducted within 96 hours prior to the journey.
In a tweet, Air India Express said: “Regulatory authorities in Dubai have recommended Air India Express to reject the RT-PCR test reports from the following laboratories for passengers travelling to Dubai…it has further been recommended that passengers to Dubai may be advised to obtain pre-travel RT-PCR reports from Pure Health-approved laboratories”. Pure Health is a UAE-based laboratory consulting and medical supply company.
Scheduled international flights have been suspended in India since March 23 due to Covid-19.
However, special international passenger flights have been operating in the country under the Vande Bharat Mission since May and under bilateral air bubble arrangements formed with other countries since July.
The UAE is one of the 10 countries with which India has established bilateral air bubble pacts. Under such a pact, the airlines of both countries can operate international passenger flights with certain restrictions.
Flag carrier Air India is also currently undergoing a suspension for flights to Hong Kong for carrying several Covid-positive passengers on its Vande Bharat flights to the city.
This was Air India’s second such ban after the authorities suspended its flights on an earlier occasion in August for the same reason, wherein they also raised questions over testing standards in India.
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