It was only a matter of time. Emirates is now officially the first airline to test passengers for the coronavirus before they board.
Though most nations remain in some form of lockdown, and air travel has slowed to a near halt, the company took the reduction in traffic as an opportunity to begin its testing program this week. Beginning with a flight that left from Dubai headed for Tunisia, the first blood tests were administered by the Dubai Health Authority to passengers with results rendered in 10 minutes.
The move is the first step in a company-wide effort to scale up testing capabilities, including performing those tests on more flights. Other than providing immediate assurance of safety on the aircraft itself, Emirates claims the test could have the dual benefit of providing that information to countries that require a Covid-19 testing certificate to enter.
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Emirates has become the first airline to conduct on-site rapid COVID-19 tests for passengers. The health and safety of our passengers and employees is of paramount importance, and will not be compromised. @dha_dubai @dxb #FlyEmiratesFlyBetter #EmiratesAirline #COVID_19 #COVID19
“The testing process has gone smoothly, and we would like to take this opportunity to thank the Dubai health authority for their initiatives and innovative solutions,” said Adel al Redha, Emirates chief operating officer, in a press release. “This would have not been possible without the support of Dubai airport and other government authorities.”
The tests aren’t the only change Emirates is making to protect passengers and staff during the pandemic. All passengers are now required to wear masks for the duration of boarding and the flight itself. Even carry-on luggage has been eliminated, with only small items like purses and briefcases permitted. Plus, a triumvirate of gloves, masks and hand sanitizer has become required of every Emirates employee until further notice.
The airline isn’t the only major regional carrier to experiment with coronavirus-related tests. Etihad Airways has begun using scanners that gauge elevated body temperature and other health biometrics on passengers.