Going paperless: Emirates begins digital verification of COVID-19 medical records

The integration with the Dubai Health Authority reportedly makes the emirate one of the first cities in the world to implement full digital verification of traveller COVID-19 medical records.
By Ahmed El Sherif
02:53 am
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Credit: Emirates

The largest airline in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is now in the process of implementing paperless document verification relating to COVID-19 PCR testing and vaccination.

This week, Emirates announced it is working with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) to allow for digital verification of travellers’ data, resulting in a more secure and efficient procedure.

Rather than producing a paper copy of their PCR test at check-in, UAE-based passengers will now have their results and vaccination history – provided they were vaccinated at a DHA clinic – synchronised electronically with their flight details. The airline claims that “the integration makes Dubai one of the first cities in the world to implement full digital verification of [COVID-19] traveller medical records.”

Kleitham Ali Al Shamsi, Director of IT at the DHA added: “This partnership reinforces that technology has the potential to securely, conveniently and effectively assist airlines to receive the verified COVID-19 test results and vaccination records. 

“From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, DHA has worked tirelessly to connect all the laboratories that process COVID-19 test results in Dubai into DHA’s Outbreak Management system, this integration has been instrumental today to help develop such a unique integration with Emirates Airline.”

Those who have conducted PCR testing or have taken a vaccine outside of Dubai, however, will still be required to provide hard copies of their travel documents at check-in. 

WHY IT MATTERS

With more incidences of PCR test forgery coming to light, it makes sense to streamline data, allowing for airlines to check test results through a central system governed by the country’s health authority.

In February, for example, the DHA changed requirements for PCR testing for some territories, stating that tests must now have a QR code linking to an original test report.

As per the new strategy, Emirates confirmed that customer data will not be saved following completion of a flight.

“Emirates will only process the relevant information specifically related to the COVID-19 entry requirements of the customer’s destination,” it said in a statement. “Once check-in formalities are completed, information related to COVID-19 medical records will be immediately discarded from the Emirates systems.”

In the coming months, the next phase of its digital verification will see secure integration of health records within the IATA Travel Pass as another option to help facilitate travel.

ON THE RECORD

“The DHA has been strongly foraying into paperless healthcare over the past few years to enhance patient convenience and further improve healthcare delivery,” said Ahmed Al Nuaimi, CEO of DHA’s Joint Corporate Support Services. “Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have deployed and fostered the use of digital healthcare. 

“The strategic foresight into investing in digital healthcare has paved the way today for such a pioneering integration. This partnership will directly help streamline and make travel easy and convenient as well as ensure validation of all necessary COVID-19 medical records.”

Adel Al Redha, Emirates COO added: “The UAE government has been very supportive and is one of the leading countries in the use of technology and digital applications. This initiative is in line with the government’s vision and we are delighted to take this step within the aviation sector to cooperate with DHA in linking our systems together to enhance the customer experience by processing the relevant documents in a more efficient, secure and effective manner. 

“Our partnership with the DHA in managing passenger travel is unique and is a first step towards other initiatives that will be launched in the near future. This is a testament to Dubai’s progressive approach in delivering innovative digital solutions across all aspects of services.”

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