When Emirates Airlines resumed its Accra-Dubai-Accra flights on Thursday, January 13, 2022, the airline published a new set of COVID-19 protocols mandated by the UAE government for Ghanaian travellers.
The airline said, if Dubai is a traveller’s final destination, requires a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate with a QR code for a test conducted at an approved facility within 48 hours of departure; validity must be calculated from the time the sample was collected.
The 48hr PCR test, however, was limited to five facilities only: LEDing, Frontier, Airport Clinic, MDS-Lancet and Akai House Clinic.
Passengers are also required to take another test at the Kotoka International Airport six (6) hours before departure and present the results of the rapid or real time PCR.
The 6-hour pre-departure test is to be done at only two laboratories located within the Kotoka International Airport enclave: LEDing and Frontier.
Conspicuously missing from the list are two prestigious health institution: The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) a semi-autonomous institute of the University of Ghana and the is the leading biomedical research facility in Ghana—and the Nyaho Medical Centre.
The decision by the airline to suspend scheduled passenger service to and from the Kotoka International Airport was due largely to the number of Ghanaian travellers who present negative COVID-19 PCR test for boarding only to test positive after arriving in Dubai.
According to AviationGhana sources, the issue led to intense scrutiny and the five laboratories selected come out unblemished in their approach and credibility of results.
The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) was instrumental and finding a suitable testing-on-arrival solution that made it possible to re-open the Kotoka International Airport for scheduled passenger flights on September 1, 2020.
Noguchi has also been conducting COVID-19 PCR tests for travellers, since it became a key requirement for travel. Hence, questions have been raised as to why the facility is out of the UAE’s list of approved facilities for PCR tests before travelling.