Dubai: Curb fake Covid-19 certificates


Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) director-general Gilbert Kibe. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG

The United Arab Emirates (UAC) has asked Kenya to reign in on medical testing centres issuing fake Covid-19 results as it considers relaxing a ban on all inbound and transit passenger flights from Nairobi.

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) director-general Gilbert Kibe told the Business Daily Wednesday that Dubai is willing to allow flights from Kenya back to its territory on condition that private medical testing facilities in Kenya issue genuine Covid-19 PCR test certificates.

“Dubai has told us to put everything in order then we report back to them as a condition for allowing our passenger flights back to its territory, “said Mr Kibe Wednesday.

“Investigations has been done and we are waiting for the results to be out before we can report back to them,” he said.

The Middle East nation banned all inbound and transit passenger flights from Kenya last month because travellers from Nairobi were testing positive for Covid-19 after arrival in the Middle East nation, despite carrying negative test results.

The scheme involved a racket of private medical testing centres that colluded with travellers to issue fake certificates to aid their travel to Dubai.

The Ministry of Health has however launched a probe on the matter with a view to bringing to book private health practitioners who were abetting the crime that has now coasted Kenya millions of shillings in lost passenger revenues.

This comes days after Kenya suspended all inbound and transit passenger flights from the UAE to retaliate a move by Dubai to ban all passenger flights from Kenya.

Mr Kibe said that the suspension took effect Monday midnight for a period of seven days.

The ban does not however affect cargo flights that are normally flown by carriers such as Kenya Airways (KQ) and Emirates airline from UAE into Kenya.

The directive comes as a blow to KQ, which had seen an increase in bookings on this route occasioned by the ongoing Dubai Expo 2020 exhibition. The carrier was flaying two times per day between the two before the cancellations.

Emirates Airlines on the other hand was flying passengers ten times per week between Dubai and Nairobi before the cancellation of operations –boosting trade and passenger travel between the two nations.

The Dubai-based carrier connects the bulk of the continent’s travellers to the rest of the world through its Dubai hub with the budget airlines feeding it with cargo and passengers in major cities like Nairobi.

Kenya exported goods worth Sh25.27 billion in the nine months to September 2021 from UAE while imports from the Middle East nation stood at Sh122.35 billion in the same period, official statistics show.

The temporary suspension of operations came barely a few days after Dubai introduced new travel requirements for those coming on direct flights from Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

Under the new measures, travellers from Africa to Dubai were required to provide a report on a rapid PCR test conducted at the departure airport six hours before leaving for Dubai.

This is in addition to a negative Covid-19 test certificate issued within 48 hours of arrival in Dubai.

The new measures will also see passengers, including those in transit, undergo a PCR test upon arrival in Dubai and self-quarantine until a negative test result is out.

The new rules, which apply to both passengers terminating their journey and those transiting through Dubai, are expected to affect Africans, most of whom prefer Dubai as a transit point, due to its interconnectivity and the lower fares charged by its national carrier, Emirates Airlines.

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