KUWAIT CITY, Jan 31, (Agencies): The Council of Ministers say there is a plan to open six PCR test centers at the Kuwait International Airport (KIA) for arriving passengers provided the sites designated for these tests work as one unified electronic platform, reports Al-Qabas daily quoting reliable sources. If implemented the plan will go into effect from February 7, 2021 and Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is expected to assign ground service providers to implement the government decision and ask the airlines to foot the PCR bill for all arrivals, while at the same time a source indicated that ground service providers are in the process of contracting with 4 accredited laboratories to conduct this test. In spite of what the sources said, there is a possibility of change in plan because of the increasing number of new strains of Corona virus infections.
However, the six PCR test sites are to be distributed as follows – three at the T1 building and one site each at T4, T5 and T3. The sources pointed out work on these sites is expected to be completed this week, while the unified platform is being prepared by the Central Agency for Information Technology based on the recommendations of the Council of Ministers. It is noteworthy to mention the commercial activities at the airport currently remain suspended from 8 pm until 4 am due to the lack of availability of medical staff around the clock, but with the presence of accredited private laboratories, the airport will be able operate around the clock to run checks on all arriving passengers.
This step aims, according to the same source, to facilitate the movement of passengers and not increase the numbers, explaining that the air traffic will return to the percentage of operation it was during the first phase, that is, not exceeding 30 percent.
The Minister of State for Housing Affairs and Minister of State for Services Affairs Dr Abdullah Marafi inspected at Kuwait International Airport (KIA) the latest regulatory and health measures following the cabinet’s mandate for airlines to conduct Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests for all arriving passengers to the country. In a statement to KUNA on Sunday, Dr Marafi said that the task of checking passengers arriving at KIA will be assigned to airlines to ease the burden on health teams from Kuwait’s Ministry of Health (MoH), which have done great efforts since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.
The airlines, in cooperation with the country’s ground services companies and local laboratories, will conduct PCR examinations to travelers arriving to the nation, he added, underlining that MoH will only monitor and supervise these swabs. During Marafi’s tour, he commended the great efforts made by MoH and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) during this phase, which played a vital and clear role to confront the COVID-19 pandemic in various fields and sectors.
Travelers on airplanes and public transportation like buses and subways will be required to wear face masks starting next week to curb the spread of COVID-19. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a mask-wearing rule late Friday that builds on an order announced Jan 21 by President Joe Biden. The rule “will protect Americans and provide confidence that we can once again travel safely even during this pandemic,” said Dr Marty Cetron, director of CDC’s division of migration and quarantine, who signed the order.
The 11-page CDC order takes effect just before midnight on Monday night. It makes refusal to wear a mask a violation of federal law, enforced by the Transportation Security Administration and other federal, state and local authorities. The rule applies to passengers on airplanes, trains, subways, buses, taxis and ride-shares. It says travelers must wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth while riding and while getting on and off rides. The order extends to waiting areas such as airports, train platforms and subway stations. Airlines already require masks and have banned more than 2,000 passengers for refusing to wear one. Flight attendant unions have said a federal rule will make it easier for crews to enforce the requirement.
The order exempts children under 2 years of age and people with a disability that makes it unsafe to wear a mask. Airlines struggled with an exemption for safety and stopped allowing it. The CDC said transportation operators can require medical documentation. Travelers will be allowed to remove masks while eating or drinking.
The CDC said some face coverings aren’t good enough to comply with the rule. The don’t-travel list includes face shields, bandanas, masks with exhalation valves and masks that are too big or otherwise don’t fit properly. The CDC said transportation operators may require a negative COVID-19 test from passengers.
Cetron said this week that the health agency is considering requiring testing of passengers on flights within the United States, but the airline industry is fighting a testing requirement out of fear that fewer people will fly. U.S. air travel is already down more than 60% from a year ago. The CDC rule came just over a week after Biden’s executive order, which already mandated masks on certain modes of public transportation including planes and trains, and it mandated masks on federal property.