As the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines fuels the global debates over the use of digital health-related data to reopen air traveling, Emirates implemented a fully digital verification of medical records for passengers based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Emirates started offering its passengers a new check-in procedure that does not require them to present their physical PCR test report in the airport. Almost two months after signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), the airline integrated a complete digital verification of medical data, meaning that all necessary documents for travelers who have undertaken a PCR test in Dubai or received the vaccination at the DHA health center, could be synchronized during flight check-in.
The airline expected that a full digital synchronization of medical records should spur the check-in process for travelers departing from Dubai International Airport (DXB).
Once the health-related data are matched up with the entry requirements of the passenger destination and the check-in process completed, all medical records are immediately deleted from the Emirates system, according to the carrier. Kleitham Ali Al Shamsi, the Director of IT at the DHA highlighted that the strategic authority‘s investment and focus on healthcare technology should provide significant benefits not only in the local health sector but in the whole air travel sector as well.
Al Shamsi also outlined that data synchronization has the potential to 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,” the Director was quoted in the Emirates statement.
However, since some countries in the Emirates network still require passengers to carry the documents physically when traveling, passengers who have done the PCR testing or vaccination outside of Dubai would be still asked to provide a physical copy of necessary health care documentation while at check-in.
In the coming months, Emirates also plans to step into the next phase of digital verification which should secure passenger health records within the IATA Travel Pass, which it considers being a crucial digital solution to verify that passenger‘s testing results or vaccination comply with regulations of the country of destination.