The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has revealed that Dubai banned all inbound and transit passenger flights from Kenya because of fake COVID-19 negative certificates. The regulator established that travellers from Nairobi were testing positive for COVID-19 after arrival in Dubai, despite carrying negative test results.

KCAA director-general Gilbert Kibe stated that the scheme involved a chain of corrupt officials from the Ministry of Health who colluded with travellers to issue fake COVID-19 PCR results to facilitate travel to Dubai. The Ministry of Health has however launched a probe on the matter, with a view to punish health officials who were involved in the shoddy deal that has cost Kenya millions of shillings in lost passenger revenues.

The situation, he said, went out of hand the moment health officials in the Middle East nation detected up to 73 cases of COVID-19 negative tests that were fake. He added that a thorough probe on issuance of the fake COVID-19 clearance documents is underway by the Ministry of Health and that all culprits will be brought to book.

The Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) announced a 48 hour suspension on all flights from Kenya to the Middle East nation on December 20, 2021. On December 29, 2021, Emirates Airline said it had, in turn, extended its suspension of flights from Kenya to comply with the directive that was to end on December 24 until further notice. However, the Kenyan suspension did not affect cargo freights and passenger flights from Dubai to Nairobi.

The national carrier said it would refund passengers who had booked for travel within the suspension period. The travellers will also be allowed to rebook when flights resume, said KQ. The temporary suspension of operations came barely a few days after Dubai introduced new travel requirements for those coming on direct flights from Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

Under the new measures, travellers from Africa to Dubai were required to provide a report on a rapid PCR test conducted at the departure airport six hours before leaving for Dubai. It is in addition to a negative Covid-19 test certificate issued within 48 hours of arrival in Dubai. Passengers, including those on transit, under the new measures, will undergo a PCR test upon arrival in Dubai and self-quarantine until a negative test result is out.

The report comes at a time Kenya has recorded a sharp increase in cases of COVID-19 infections in recent months, while the number of admissions in health facilities is also increasing. The proportion of positive tests sharply rose by a double-digit from December 2021, raising concerns among health officials.