Emirates and DHA to launch COVID-19 digital verification system for travel

The UAE’s largest airline has partnered with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) to launch a system that will reportedly enable centralised, digital verification of traveller COVID-19 medical records.

In the coming months, Emirates will work with the DHA to link IT systems of DHA-approved laboratories with the airline’s reservations and check-in systems. The project, which “will commence immediately” will involve linking and storing passenger health information relating to COVID-19 infection history, testing, and vaccination “all in a secure and legally compliant manner”. 

Emirates said in a statement: “Emirates and the DHA today signed a Memorandum of Understanding [MoU] which aims to position Dubai as one of the first cities in the world to implement digital verification of traveller medical records related to COVID-19 testing and vaccination.

The MoU was signed by Emirates Chairman and Chief Executive, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, and Awadh Al Ketbi, Director General of Dubai Health Authority.

The airline added the system is set to go live “in the coming months”.

THE LARGER CONTEXT

Last month, Emirates revealed it had become “one of the first airlines in the world” to trial the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Travel Pass, described as a “mobile app to help passengers easily and securely manage their travel in line with any government requirements for COVID-19 testing or vaccine information”.

At the time, the airline confirmed that Phase 1 of the trial was scheduled to begin in April 2021, with digital validation of COVID-19 PCR tests taking place prior to departure from Dubai International Airport. 

It is not clear whether the new system mentioned above is related to the IATA Travel Pass, or whether the trial of the pass will still go ahead.

Healthcare IT News has reached out to Emirates and the IATA, who are yet to respond to requests for comment.

ON THE RECORD

Sheikh Ahmed said: “Dubai is a leading global air transport hub, as well as one of the world’s most progressive cities in the area of e-government services. It’s a natural step to combine our capabilities to implement digital verification of COVID-19 medical records, which will also enable contactless document verification at Dubai Airport. 

“This will tremendously improve the traveller experience, as well as the reliability, efficiency and compliance with entry requirements imposed by destinations around the world.”

He added: “Dubai will continue to lead the way in implementing effective and balanced approaches to contagion control, while facilitating travel and air transport which are crucial to communities and economies.”

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