KUWAIT: As part of ongoing preparations to resume commercial flights at Kuwait International Airport by the beginning of August, the Ministry of Health (MoH) announced accrediting the first private lab to conduct the COVID-19 PCR test for travelers who will need it prior to departure for a fixed fee of KD 40.

MoH assistant undersecretary for private medical services Dr Fatima Al-Najjar told Al-Rai daily that the accreditation was awarded after specialized technical committees inspected the lab and made sure it matched all the necessary requirements and conditions to provide reliable services.

Najjar added that the accreditation assessment included lab staff qualifications, technical efficiency, availability of equipment and detectors needed for the test phases, work methodology, specimen collection, transport, storage, processing, examination and result issuance, in addition to service quality and safety.

Najjar also stressed that results of tests conducted in accredited labs would be electronically linked to the MoH database. The accredited lab will be able to receive specimens from various licensed private medical institutions, provided they are collected by licensed doctors.

“The fixed fee for the test will be KD 40 in order to ensure the continuality of the service quality,” Najjar added, noting that taking into consideration that many countries mandate having a negative PCR test result for entry of all travelers, namely students, MoH is studying other labs’ applications to get accredited.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation had presented Tuesday a set of rules for the safe resumption of air travel, as Kuwait prepares to open its airport for commercial flights next month while assuaging travel concerns of coronavirus-wary passengers. The protocols encompass measures including random testing of passengers arriving at and departing from Kuwait International Airport, Saleh Al-Fadaghi, deputy director general for airport affairs at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), said in a statement.

The new rules mandate all travelers to wear protective facemasks and keep a hand sanitizer in their possession, besides strictly abiding by social distancing guidelines, he said. As per the new guidelines, departing passengers are required to provide negative COVID-19 test results before boarding their flights. Passengers are also instructed to keep hand luggage to a minimum. Fadaghi explained manual checks of tickets have now been scaled back as a result of the pandemic in favor of the more popular digital e-tickets, whose scanning requires no physical contact.

The new measures call on passengers to be present at the airport no less than four hours before departure to ensure a smooth and convenient journey, added the official. Commercial flights at Kuwait International Airport will resume from Aug 1 after a four-month hiatus, part of a three-stage resumption plan starting at no more than 30 percent capacity.