Just 1.27% of quarantined UAE passengers test positive for COVID in UK, says IATA

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REUTERS
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1623320233550866200
Fall, 2021-06-10 09:06

DUBAI: The percentage of passengers arriving in the UK from the UAE who have tested positive for COVID-19 during the mandatory quarantine process was just 1.27 percent, according to figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The UAE and Qatar have been on the UK’s Red List since Feb. 25, meaning passengers arriving in the UK from the Gulf states must quarantine in a designated hotel facility for 10 days, at a cost of £1,750 ($2,476). Egypt, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Sudan were added to the Red List earlier this month.
In an online press briefing on Wednesday, Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general, said that since Feb. 25 about 410,000 people had returned to the UK and only 8,700, or just over 2 percent, had tested positive for COVID-19, while the rates for the UAE and Qatar were even lower.
“It actually was quite low. So for the UAE, the positivity rate, in other words the number of passengers that tested positive as a percentage of the total number of passengers flying into the UK, was only 1.27 percent,” Walsh said.
“And for Qatar, it was even lower, there were only nine people out of 1,248 in the period between the 25th of February and the 19th of May,” he said, adding that the low infection rate did not justify the countries being on the Red List and the restrictions were having a negative impact on carriers in the region.
“The scientific evidence that we have shows that all of the vaccines are effective against these variants. But clearly the issue is having a significant impact on the operations of carriers in the UAE and Qatar,” he said.
According to the latest figures from IATA, Middle East airlines lost $7.9 billion in revenue last year as passenger demand slumped by 72 percent during the pandemic. The association does not expect the region’s aviation sector to recover until at least 2024.
Looking to the future, Walsh said he was confident that if restrictions such as the mandatory quarantine procedures in the UK were lifted, the industry would see a swift rebound.
“When these restrictions are removed, we see an immediate response from markets. The good news is that we’re very confident that when restrictions are relaxed or removed, we will see a rebound in traffic. Hence the reason we’re forecasting an improvement in 2021 over 2020 forecast losses. This year we estimate to be around 48 billion versus the 126 billion last year,” he said.
IATA is currently working on a digital travel pass, which Walsh said would go live in the Middle East in the coming weeks.
“We have received very positive feedback on the IATA travel pass,” he said. “It will go live in the next couple of weeks with a number of carriers in the Middle East region,” he added, without naming any specific airlines.
The IATA pass is a mobile app that enables passengers to provide proof of their testing and vaccination history, which can be shared with airlines and immigration officials.

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