July 20, 2020 / 2:18 PM / 15 days ago

Moscow airline passengers to be express tested for COVID-19

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Express COVID-19 testing will be available for some passengers at Russia’s busiest airport from Monday as part of a pilot project aimed at allowing air travel and tourism to resume safely.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport said the diagnostic tests, which give results in one hour, would be available for all passengers on domestic flights at Terminal B on Monday, as part of a wider plan to create coronavirus-free airport hubs.

The portable testing system, which fits in two small suitcases, is already used at production sites by some Russian companies and was deployed at Russia’s World War Two Victory Day military parade, held on June 24, the RDIF said.

“If you’re at an airport and you need to be tested for three hours, this is not a workable solution,” RDIF head Kirill Dmitriev told Reuters in an interview last week, adding the project aims to provide test results “within an hour”.

“We are doing a pilot in an airport in Japan and in Moscow, Sheremetyevo, and in an airport in the United Arab Emirates.”

Russia has not yet confirmed the date that international flights will return, with restrictions in place for many people travelling in and out of the country. But the RDIF said express coronavirus testing would be available from July 27 for domestic and international flights at Sheremetyevo’s Terminal D.

Those behind the project are hopeful that a successful trial could set an example for other major airports worldwide and allow tourism to return while ensuring passenger safety.

Russia has the world’s fourth-highest number of novel coronavirus cases at 777,486. It says 12,427 people have died from the virus.

Reporting by Katya Golubkova; Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Alex Richardson

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