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6,000 people tested daily for coronavirus at Dubai-Abu Dhabi border

anjana@khaleejtimes.com Filed on July 28, 2020 | Last updated on July 28, 2020 at 06.20 am
Gnahtoot, covid-19, coronavirus testing, laser test, abu dhabi, dubai


(Photos: Juidin Bernarrd/Khaleej Times)




The numbers go up to 8,000 during weekends.

Up to 6,000 people are being tested daily for coronavirus at the rapid testing facility on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi border near the Ghantoot checkpoint, Khaleej Times has learnt.

The laser test that gives results in less than five minutes and costs only Dh50 has eased up commute between Dubai and Abu Dhabi ever since it was launched last week. Residents with a negative Covid-19 test (PCR) result will be allowed to enter Abu Dhabi within 48 hours of receiving the result.

"We have the capacity to test 10,000 people daily. Currently, the numbers are going up to 8,000 over the weekends and 6,000 during weekdays," Abdullah A Rashdi, spokesperson for Tamouh Healthcare, the Abu Dhabi government-run medical company that manages the facility, told Khaleej Times.

The rapid test is developed by Quantlase Imaging Lab, a medical arm of Abu Dhabi-based investment firm International Holding Company (IHC). It uses a laser-based technology called DPI (diffractive phase interferometry) that identifies any inflammation or virus in the blood. The blood sample is placed on a laser machine that identifies increase in blood cells, which is an indication of the presence of virus. Residents who test positive have to undergo a swab test at the facility itself and wait for 24 hours for the results before they can enter Abu Dhabi.

Rashdi said the aim is to test as many people as possible to help in stopping the spread of coronavirus. "We are trying to make it easier for people. Families are always given priority and everyone is urged to come with pre-booked appointments."

The facility is run from an air-conditioned tent near the Dubai-Abu Dhabi border, and is manned by over 150 medical staff and technicians.

Elaborating on the facility, Salem Al Mansoori, supervisor at the centre, said there are 20 queuing lanes with 260 waiting points to ensure physical distancing is maintained.

"We have set up 45 tables, each with two technicians. Families have separate queues. People can pay with debit or credit card as they stand in the queue. Cash is not accepted as it is not safe. Within 15 minutes, the whole process will be over," said Mansoori.

Many residents said the rapid testing has made life easier for them as they have a hassle-free access to Abu Dhabi.

"This is a great service for people like me who have to travel to Abu Dhabi every day. I am done in 10 minutes and I have my negative Covid-19 result," said Mohammed Rahme, a Palestinian sales manager.

Jordanian expat Mohammed Ibrahim said the testing facility allows him to travel to Abu Dhabi every week. "I cannot afford to spend Dh370 every week. This is quick and affordable."

Long waiting period for online booking

But due to the high demand, many people said they are unable to get online bookings at least for the next two weeks.

"I have been planning to go and visit my sister in Abu Dhabi. But the last time I checked, the earliest date available was on August 12," said Mahesh Ranjan, a Dubai resident.

Another resident Abdullah Hassan said his Eid Al Adha plans with his extended family are not working out because he cannot get a date for the test.

"I cannot afford to pay Dh370. But I am unable to get an appointment on any of the days during the long Eid break. This is frustrating."

To cater to the high demand, authorities said they are planning to open new centres on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi and Dubai-Al Ain border.

"Plans are under way to build new testing centres at the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Road and also on the highway connecting Dubai and Al Ain. We cannot announce a timeline now. But there will be more centres coming up," said Rashdi.

author

Anjana Sankar

Anjana Sankar is a UAE-based journalist chasing global stories of conflict, migration and human rights. She has reported from the frontlines of the wars in Yemen and Syria and has extensively written on the refugee crisis in Bangladesh, Iraq and Europe. From interviewing Daesh militants to embedding with the UAE army in Yemen, and covering earthquakes, floods, terrorist attacks and elections, she has come out scathe-free from the most dangerous conflict zones of the world. Riding on over 14 years of experience, Anjana currently is an Assistant Editor with Khaleej Times and leads the reporting team. She often speaks about women empowerment on her Facebook page that has 40,000 plus followers.


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