Coronavirus Pandemic

UAE: Free PCR tests for residents’ mandatory screenings proposed

Ismail Sebugwaawo /Abu Dhabi Filed on June 8, 2021
KT file photo

An official recommended that Covid costs be covered by health insurance firms.

A member of the Federal National Council (FNC) has proposed the provision of more free Covid-19 tests, which health insurance firms could cover to save residents from spending money on routine screenings.

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Hamad Ahmed Al Rahoumi, an FNC member from Dubai, who is also the deputy speaker of the council, said individuals and companies have had to shell out a lot of money on routine PCR tests, while insurance companies are yet to come up with a plan to cover Covid treatment and screening since the outbreak started.

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“The Covid-19 PCR tests have become a basic requirement for all people in the country. Residents must present a negative Covid result to access government offices and other places and for attending events, visiting schools and others, making families spend huge sums of money on the regular screenings monthly,” Al Rahoumi said during the FNC meeting on Tuesday.

“Companies also spent large sums of money to conduct Covid-19 tests for their employees, despite the fact that health insurance companies are obligated to cover subscribers in times of emergency and disasters. There is a need to provide residents with more free tests to relieve them of the financial burden.”

During the FNC session, he raised the concern about health insurance coverage for Covid-19 to Abdul Rahman Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention (Mohap) and Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs.

Al Owais said Mohap had taken on the task of covering the medical bills for all Covid-19 cases that government hospitals had transferred to private hospitals, adding that the ministry has paid huge sums of money to shoulder the treatment costs for all patients, whether citizens or residents.

On the free screenings, the minister explained that since the outbreak of the pandemic, the government’s health sector has conducted 99 per cent of the tests free of charge, indicating the ministry’s keenness on carrying out free screenings for all residents.

“Free screening tests have been carried out by the ministry across the country to ensure the safety of everyone. All people suspected of having contracted the virus or those with Covid-19 symptoms are screened for free at all government facilities,” he said.

Plan to provide health services at commercial centres

The minister has also confirmed that Mohap will conduct a study on the expansion of its services, including the establishment of medical facilities inside commercial centres in the country. Such facilities, he said, would help in dealing with emergency cases.

Al Owais was responding to a question raised by an FNC member who proposed the need for such services. He noted that post-Covid-19 health programmes would be different from what existed before, and that the ministry was receiving all positive proposals that might be considered after being studied.


Ismail Sebugwaawo

A professional journalist originating from Kampala, Uganda, Ismail is a happy father with strong attachment to family and great values for humanity. He has practiced journalism in UAE for the past 13 years, covering the country's parliament (FNC) and crimes, including Abu Dhabi Police, public prosecution and courts. He also reports about important issues in education, public health and the environment, with a keen interest in human interest stories. When out of reporting duties, he serves the Ugandan community in Abu Dhabi as he wants to see his countrymen happy. Exercising and reading are part of his free time.

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