Coronavirus Pandemic

Combating coronavirus: Mass testing is helping UAE win war against virus

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on August 5, 2020 | Last updated on August 6, 2020 at 03.14 pm
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(Photo by Shihab/Khaleej Times)

Over 90 per cent of infected patients recover, as opposed to a global recovery rate of 58 per cent.

Doctors have hailed the UAE's mass testing drive as it reported no Covid-19 fatality for the fourth day straight on Tuesday. The number of cases dipped to less than 200 in the last two days, indicating a downward turn of infections.

The country's Covid mortality rate of 0.6 per cent is considerably lower than the global average of 3.7 per cent. Over 90 per cent of infected patients recover, as opposed to a global recovery rate of 58 per cent.

Hundreds of thousands of Emiratis and expats are being tested for free across the Emirates. Dr Sundar Elayaperumal, specialist microbiology, Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi, said: "This has helped the authorities identify asymptomatic patients and ensure proper treatment for them at the right time."

He listed the benefits of mass testing. "It helped the authorities identify silent spreaders of the disease in the community and ensure treatment for them. More importantly, it reduced the spread of the virus to a large extent. This has been crucial in controlling the disease."

A community develops what is known as 'herd immunity' when a large number of people within it develop a natural resistance to the spread of a contagious disease. One indicator is the development of antibodies.

Experts said it is too early to conclude whether the UAE residents have developed herd immunity, but some said they have seen signs of this.

"In the UAE, I have come across people who have already developed the presence of antibodies without any history of exposure to Covid-19. With this, it could be said that herd immunity is developing among the people of the country. But to substantiate it, we need to conduct extensive antibody studies among the residents," Dr Elayaperumal added.

Health experts said mass screenings at high-density areas have helped halt the spread of the virus. Dr Abdul Khaliq Farooqui, general practitioner at Right Health in Jebel Ali, said that the country's aggressive testing and isolation of infected cases; and robust awareness programmes for controlling its spread. He said it was "premature" to state that residents have developed a herd immunity.

Dr Amr Elnaggar, specialist, emergency medicine, Medcare Hospital, Al Safa, explained that an estimated 60 to 70 per cent of the population would need to have antibodies in order to have herd immunity.

Dr Sameem Majid Matto, internal medicine and endocrinology specialist, Canadian Specialist Hospital, Dubai, said: "We still need some clinical data to suggest that herd immunity has really developed in the UAE. But aggressive testing has helped in combatting the situation in the country in such a short time."

The doctor said that anywhere between 40,000 to 50,000 tests are conducted daily. "It's a great achievement that has helped contain the virus spread." 


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