UAE fights Covid: Routine PCR tests, a way of life for Abu Dhabi residents to stay safe
Negative PCR result mandatory to gain entry to venues or major events
Until last year, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was not a widely known test in the UAE Capital outside medical circles. But PCR tests for Covid-19 have now become a way of life for Abu Dhabi residents with several people undergoing regular tests to stay safe.
From entering the emirate of Abu Dhabi to accessing government buildings, visiting schools or attending major events, a negative PCR result is now mandatory to gain entry to venues. Even people who have taken both their Covid vaccine doses are required to show a negative PCR result on the Al Hosn app, and the test has to be taken less than a week prior to the event.
>> How PCR is done
The Covid-19 PCR test is conducted via a nasal swab. The laboratory test is a real-time assessment to detect SARS-CoV-2 or coronavirus. According to medical experts, the PCR test is the “gold standard” test for diagnosing Covid-19 because it’s the most accurate and reliable test.
>> Access only after PCR test
Abu Dhabi authorities had made the Covid-19 negative result mandatory for accessing public offices, events and other public areas as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of everyone. It is also mandatory for federal government employees who have not been vaccinated to undergo a Covid test once every week.
Workers in certain sectors especially those interacting with many people on a daily basis, including hotels, restaurants, recreational areas, health workers, tour guides, taxi drivers and others have to undergo periodical PCR tests as part of Covid-19 protocols.
Parents or visitors wanting to access school premises must present a Covid-19 negative result to be allowed entry. Teachers and administrative staff must also undergo periodical Covid tests, according to guidelines issued by education regulators in Abu Dhabi.
Residents travelling outside the country or those returning to the UAE from vacations also have to present a negative PCR result at the airport.
>> Border restrictions
Since last year, many Abu Dhabi residents had limited their travel to Dubai and other emirates because of the border restrictions as they have to present a Covid negative result at the check points when returning to the Capital.
As per the latest rules, a negative PCR test result received no more than 48 hours prior to travel to Abu Dhabi is required. A negative DPI ( (Diffractive Phase Interferometry) test result received 24 hours prior to travel also allows entry, but it cannot be used to enter two consecutive times.
If an individual stays in Abu Dhabi for more than 48 hours, they will have to take the PCR test on Day 3 of entry, and a second PCR on Day 7, if they remain in the emirate for a week or more. The day of entry to Abu Dhabi is considered Day 1.
>> How PCR tests can be accessed in Abu Dhabi
PCR tests are conducted at several public and private clinics and hospitals in the Capital. Also, Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) has opened many drive-through screening centres across the emirate.
>> How much does a PCR test cost?
The cost of Covid-19 (PCR) test at public and private clinics is Dh65 for a single run.
The government has also put in place some free Covid-19 screening centres where private company employees can avail of a free test once in every three weeks.
Health authorities are also conducting free screening drives in densely populated areas to identify those infected with the virus so they can be treated quickly.
>> Tests ensure health & safety
Routine PCR screenings have ensured safety of Abu Dhabi residents, say health experts. Dr. Faisal Hamza Dalvi, a frontline doctor and specialist in internal medicine at Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi said the routine and mandatory PCR tests in Abu Dhabi have helped reduce Covid-19 cases thereby keeping the UAE Capital safe.
“I applaud Abu Dhabi’s Covid-19 protocols, including the routine screenings because they have helped ensure the safety of residents,” said Dalvi.
“The number of new Covid-19 cases in Abu Dhabi had dropped since the routine screenings became mandatory for workers in particular sectors especially those interacting with many people on a daily basis, including restaurant and hotel staff, schoolteachers and even healthcare workers.”
He explained that the routine screenings help identify those infected with the virus so they can be isolated and treated immediately to control the spread of coronavirus.
“It is good for everyone, even for those that have been vaccinated to underdo routine screenings because it helps detect the virus, following which, it can be treated very quickly before one suffers complications or spreads it to others,” said Dr. Dalvi.
Abu Dhabi is one the few places in the world which have not been affected by the second wave of Covid-19 and this is because of the safety protocols being implemented, including the routine Covid screenings, said Dr. Sajeev Nair, specialist pulmonologist at LLH Hospital Musaffah.
“Currently, the mortality rate and new Covid-19 cases in Abu Dhabi are very low and all this can be attributed to the proper surveillance of residents through routine screenings which help control the spread of the virus,” said Nair.
“Early diagnosis of the disease helps to prevent patients from developing complications like pneumonia and reduces the chances of death.”
He noted that the mandatory routine Covid tests for workers in various sectors has also helped residents gain confidence. Many of them have now returned to their workplaces as they know it is safe to so so.
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