Local health officials were standing in front of the store with it being cordoned off.
Scared and tensed faces eagerly awaiting their turn for medical screening and rapid test. That was the scene at Abu Dhabi International Airport at 11am on Thursday as passengers waited for their flight to Kochi.
Most of them had gaze fixed at a temporarily shut retail store, which was covered in black sheets. With local health officials standing in front of the store and the entire area being cordoned off, it created a general perception that the screening and test will happen there.
The word soon spread. Following social distancing norms, every new passenger was somehow informed through gestures that the black-sheet covered store is where the rapid test will happen.Hours passed and by 1.30pm, passengers were asked to form a line and head to opposite side through a tunnel. It was then known that the health officials had come to receive some medical professionals from abroad, who will help the UAE contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
There were few sheepish, embarrassed faces and an immediate search was started for the Malayali who had spread this rumour.
“Can’t these people tell this first? I don’t know who created this nonsense. There are so many pregnant women and children. We are already stressed about that test. And then have to stare at that store for hours,” husband of a pregnant wife complained.
The entire episode did calm nerves. By 2.30pm, the entire caravan of 177 hopefuls had one by one started their medical screening session and test. The exercise lasted till about 4pm.
“Since each seat had to be sanitised before the next passenger is tested, it took time,” a passenger said. And finally, the flight took off just minutes before 5pm.
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