Over 200 Dubai-bound Indian passengers were barred from boarding their flights on Monday because their Covid-19 test results were deemed invalid, airport authorities said. They were carrying RT-PCR reports from blacklisted laboratories.
A total of 117 passengers were denied permission to board an Air India Express flight from Kerala’s Kannur International Airport, which left for Dubai at 2pm (UAE time) on Monday, Rajesh Poduwal, head of operations at the airport, told Khaleej Times. Around 100 passengers were also reportedly stranded at Kozhikode International Airport.
“Only 66 adult passengers and one child were allowed to board the flight on Monday. As per my understanding, the airline denied the passengers entry as they were carrying test reports from a laboratory that has been blacklisted by Dubai authorities,” Poduwal said. Those who were not able to travel were given free replacement tickets.
On Sunday night, Air India Express announced that health authorities in Dubai will no longer accept RT-PCR Covid-19 test results from four laboratories in India.
“The RT-PCR negative Covid-19 reports from four Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-approved laboratories – Suryam Lab in Jaipur, Microhealth Labs in Kerala, Dr P Bhasin Pathlabs LTD. in Delhi, and the Noble Diagnostic Centre in Delhi – will not be accepted anymore,” the airline said in its travel blog.
Passengers travelling to Dubai are advised to obtain pre-travel RT-PCR reports from Pure Health-approved laboratories, it added.
Poduval added: “One GoAir flight also departed to Dubai today but the airline took special permission from the UAE authorities to ensure smooth operations today. Starting tomorrow, this will not be the case.”
Neeraj Agarwal, consul for Press, information, and culture at the Consulate-General of India in Dubai, confirmed the report about the blacklisted labs. “However, passengers wishing to fly from India to Dubai can bring the test report from all other ICMR-approved facilities, except the four labs that have been listed by Dubai authorities,” he said.
A similar notice has also been issued by the UAE airline flydubai to its passengers flying in from India.
‘2,600 fake reports were issued in our name’
Kerala’s Micro Health Laboratories, one of the blacklisted labs, told Khaleej Times that it encountered the problem after 2,600 fake test results had been issued by scamsters under its name.
Dr Noushad CK, CEO of MicroHealth Laboratories, said: “A lab in Malappuram district issued these fake results on our letterhead and forged our stamps. The case was reported to the local police.”
With 27 labs across the world, Micro Health had partnered with the UAE’s official testing facility, Pure Health, in July. The company had opened franchises with over 40 labs across Kerala.
“The problem has now been resolved. We had shared an online verification system with airlines and we have also launched a QR code system to check the authenticity of the test results,” Dr Noushad said.