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the coronavirus crisis

Airline conducts COVID-19 blood tests on passengers

One airline is now administering blood tests to passengers before they board flights amid the coronavirus pandemic, it announced on Wednesday.

Emirates said this week that on a Wednesday flight to Tunisia from Dubai, passengers "were all tested for COVID-19" before departing by way of blood tests conducted by the Dubai Health Authority at the airport's check-in area, and "results were available within 10 minutes."

Emirates called itself the first airline to conduct on-site rapid COVID-19 tests on its passengers. These blood tests are in addition to other precautions the airline has taken, such as requiring passengers to wear masks.

CNN notes that "serology (blood) tests aren't meant to diagnose active coronavirus infections," but they "check for proteins in the immune system, known as antibodies, through a blood sample," and "their presence means a person was exposed to the virus and developed antibodies against it."

But this, CNN also observes, may be "a sign of what the future holds for air travelers," while NPR describes it as potentially "a step toward making air travel palatable to the public again." The airline is hoping to expand this practice, as Emirates Chief Operating Officer Adel Al Redha said in a statement, "We are working on plans to scale up testing capabilities in the future and extend it to other flights."