The much-awaited RT-PCR Covid testing for the outbound passengers at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport may begin Tuesday.
"The six newly set up testing facilities conducted a trial run on Sunday for the second day. Once the trial is completed, the labs will be open to passengers headed for the United Arab Emirates. I hope the testing will begin within the next two to three days – likely on 28 September," said Air-Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman, chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB).
After a successful trial, Air-Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman said, CAAB would notify the airliners 48 hours before commercial operations.
He said Biman, expatriates' welfare ministry, health ministry and foreign ministry have together set up the management for Covid testing at the airport.
Dr Shahriar Sajjad, health officer at the airport, said, "Around 100 airport staff gave samples to the labs on a trial basis on Sunday."
On Sunday, Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Md Mahbub Ali visited the labs to observe the progress of the trial.
Around 40,000 expatriates who came home on vacation have been unable to return to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the Gulf country in August made pre-flight Covid testing mandatory for the inbound passengers. They got stranded as there were no such test facilities at the country's international airports.
According to the August announcement of the UAE, foreign passengers must have a rapid PCR test for Covid-19 by a maximum of six hours before the flight.
Following that, the stranded expatriates had been demanding speedy setup of the test facilities at international airports.
Many of the migrant workers and professionals feared failure to reach their workplaces in the UAE on time might cost them their jobs.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on 6 September instructed the authorities concerned to set up labs at the country's three international airports in Dhaka, Chattogram, and Sylhet immediately.
On 15 September, the expatriates' welfare ministry announced that they have permitted six private healthcare firms to set up Covid testing labs at Dhaka airport based on the recommendations of the health directorate.
On 23 September, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said 12 machines would be installed in the six labs that could test at least 3,500-4,000 passengers per day.
According to the health directorate, the six laboratories have been asked to prepare the test reports within three hours.
The test at the lab will cost Tk1,700-Tk2,300 per passenger, according to a ministry circular.
The samples will be collected from the passengers on the north side of the second floor of the terminal building and tested in the labs downstairs.