Chaos at Centre as Crowds Line up for Visa Medicals

DUBAI — It was chaos when hundreds of people turned up for tests at the Satwa Medical Fitness Centre which opened on Tuesday after a long maintenance break. Long queues formed and were seen winding down out of the centre as people waited for their turns since early morning. However, by mid afternoon the crowd had thinned after the authorities had to close the centre for over five hours.


Asma Ali Zain

Published: Wed 9 Dec 2009, 11:53 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 9:27 AM

“This is something expected after the holidays,” said Maisa Al Bustani, head of the Medical Fitness Section at the Dubai Health Authority. She however clarified that not all centres were closed due to the 10-day Haj and Eid holidays.

The Al Muhaisnah centre was open all throughout the extended break. Some other centres were also closed for maintenance work, she said. “People waited until the holidays were over and then decided to come for testing causing the rush,” she added.

People at the Satwa centre complained that despite being given a token number in the morning, they were asked to come back in the evening. Security guards were also seen stopping people from entering the centre since it was hugely over crowded.

“We had to ask people to leave and come back again in the evening since the centre is open 24 hours but they preferred to wait outside,” said Al Bustani.

She said that even in normal circumstances, the centre was temporarily closed for a few hours if the registration numbers reached their maximum capacity. The centre can accommodate over 900 people at a time. “We also provided people with the maps of the Al Muhaisnah centre and asked to go there for the test but many refused to do so,” added Al Bustani.

Every person requiring a work or residence permit or even renewing their visa in the UAE needs to undergo a medical fitness test for diseases for infectious diseases.

The health authority last year opened the largest centre in the emirate with a capacity to cater to 5,000 people after shutting down the popular Al Maktoum Hospital which was not big enough to handle the ever increasing crowd.

Currently, there are 12 centres in the emirate where people can undergo medical fitness tests.

Recently, the authority also introduced an SMS alert facility that informs applicants that their test results are ready and have been sent to the Dubai Naturalisation Department.

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