Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
As aviation industry players have become more optimistic on the resumption of international flights worldwide, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with a leading European diagnostic service provider, for more ease to passengers required to secure negative Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) test results.
The diagnostic service provider is the 12,700-strong Unilabs, currently conducting a pilot programme in the UAE, that shall be extended to the other 16 countries, where the company has established its presence, through its 150 imaging centres and 250 laboratories that also perform antigen and serology tests.
“COVID-19 testing will play a role in re-starting international travel. Travelers will need to understand test requirements, locate labs, verify their identity to the lab and transfer their test results to relevant parties as needed,” said IATA director general Willie Walsh at the signing ceremonies.
The relevant parties he referred to are the airline companies and governments: “Our partnership with Unilabs will give travelers access to its extensive network and help them securely and efficiently manage their test results.”
The MoA signing took place 20 days after IATA-Africa & Middle East regional vice president Kamil Al Awadhi, at a teleconference with journalists from across the globe, gave an update on how the COVID19-battered aviation industry is coping. He said airline companies get support from their respective governments. He added “both Africa and the Middle East are on board to get international travel re-started.” Moreover, Europe and the Middle East are the first to have “(their respective) aircrafts back in the sky and people traveling internationally (as in the past).” He believes the IATA travel pass/app that would be seamlessly connected with special apps of airline companies, and digitally stores all pertinent documents for travel-passport, COVID-19 and vaccination records — as this also guides users to the nearest test centres, is the “most secure and fraud-free.”
In the teleconference, Al Awadhi mentioned that the Apple version of the IATA travel pass would be officially rolled out on April 15 (Thursday) while the Android would take longer. The mobile app is subject to the approval and acceptance of airline companies and governments.
At the MoA signing ceremonies, Unilabs president/chief operating officer Michael Boehmer said: “We are delighted that IATA has chosen us for this initiative. As international travel starts, we are ready to do our bit; delivering fast, effective and reliable COVID19 tests that will get people moving again.”
The US, the hardest-hit countries are Brazil with 287,499 deaths from 11,780,820 cases, Mexico with 196,606 deaths from 2,182,188 cases, India with 159,370 deaths from 11,514,331 cases.
Some activities will remain banned, including weddings and corporate meetings. Social gatherings will continue to be limited to a maximum of 20 people, SPA said, citing an interior ministry source.
International flights were suspended at the end of March last year as part of a lockdown to curb the spread of Coronavirus. Domestic flight services, however, resumed from May 25, 2020.
European Union leaders met to navigate a common path out of the pandemic as infections surge in many of their countries, while President Joe Biden set a new goal of administering 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine in the United States in his first 100 days in office.
According to the statement, the prayer spots will be opened 30 minutes before prayer and will be closed instantly after it, while the women's prayer places will be closed until further notice.
A team of Tibetan mountaineering guides will set up the separation line at the peak before climbers attempt to reach the summit from the Chinese side, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
It was not clear what the separation line would be made of.
Sinopharm, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Sputnik vaccines are provided at approved centres across the UAE.