Coronavirus Pandemic

Combating coronavirus: 1.5m Covid-19 tests carried out in UAE so far

Staff Report/Dubai
Filed on May 13, 2020 | Last updated on May 13, 2020 at 06.07 am
coronavirus, covid-19, Abdul Rahman bin Mohammed Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, covid-19 testing

(Ryan Lim/Khaleej Times)

The UAE has acted proactively with extreme transparency since the early days of the outbreak.

The UAE has done 1.5 million Covid-19 tests so far, the health minister said on Tuesday.

Elaborating on the country's massive testing drive, Abdul Rahman bin Mohammed Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, said the UAE's daily testing average is equivalent to a four-month screening average in other countries.

"The UAE acted proactively with extreme transparency since the early days of the outbreak and managed to respond quickly to the virus. Notably, it was the first country in the Middle East to report a confirmed case, one of the first countries to begin coronavirus testing and early detection, and among the few countries that are still performing strict testing," Al Owais said in a UAE government remote meeting on Tuesday.

Testing initiatives were also bolstered with the establishment of drive-through screening centres and the launch of isolation and quarantine programmes for people returning to the UAE from foreign destinations.

The biggest challenge for the country was in April, the minister said, "when the coronavirus curve was rising steadily".

"The UAE intensified its efforts to contain the outbreak, by enforcing mandatory self-quarantine and confinement measures, even for asymptomatic persons, for 15 to 25 days and up to 35 days," he said.

Preparing for the future

With the measures it has put in place and the programmes it has launched to curb the spread of the virus, the health minister said the UAE will manage to contain the outbreak this year - and, at the same time, develop a national readiness strategy for the management of future diseases, 'Disease X'.

"The ministry will endeavour to develop the healthcare sector by creating innovative ways to deliver healthcare services, such as telemedicine and digital medicine," he noted.

Looking at plans of action for a post-Covid-19 era, Al Owais discussed a number of short-term plans - which include increasing 2020-2021 government budget spending on the health sector; activating preemptive digital contact tracing using data monitoring tools; integrated data linking; and licensing of virtual medical services providers.

He also highlighted the country's long-term opportunities, in terms of enhancing health security, developing a strategy and work mechanisms to include new supply chains, activating the role of the medical industry and services, launching a digital immunisation ID card, and building national capacities to fight future epidemics, including the development of vaccines and medicines.

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