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Covid in UAE: Hospitals cater to up to 4,000 cars per day as demand for drive-thru PCR tests soars

Several facilities now offer 24/7 testing services, receiving over 10,000 samples daily



by

Ashwani Kumar

Published: Wed 19 Jan 2022, 12:28 PM

The huge demand for Covid-19 RT-PCR tests have led to Abu Dhabi-based private healthcare group ramping up screening capacities and operating round-the-clock drive-thru services in the Capital and Sharjah.

Medical experts from NMC Healthcare said that ‘green pass’ entry procedures to Abu Dhabi, mandatory weekly PCR tests for employees of government entities and companies and self-regulation by community members in the wake of the Omicron variant has led to long queues of people for Covid-19 screening.

Catering to the excess demand, NMC Royal Hospital in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi’s Bareen International Hospital have started all day, every day drive-thru services.

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Bareen International Hospital has bolstered its RT-PCR drive-thru to cater to 4,000 cars per day. As a result, the hospital has reached 80 per cent of the 10,000-samples per day capacity.

Dr Ramzi Alshaiba, medical director and specialist, general surgery, Bareen International Hospital, said: “With the new protocols set by the Abu Dhabi government, we have seen an increase in demand for RT-PCR tests. Testing has always been an important pillar to curb the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and PCR test has been the gold standard. We are committed to helping protect the health and safety of the community, most especially at this time.”

NMC Royal Hospital, Sharjah, started RT-PCR drive-thru on December 14 and made it 24x7 on January 12. The hospital gets more than 300 cars per night and the numbers are increasing. Overall, there are 10,000 tests being done per day and the capacity is to conduct 20,000 tests.

Dr Mohammed Shabbir, head of department, emergency medicine, NMC Royal Hospital, Sharjah, said drive-thru is the safest mode to do PCR tests.

“By interacting less with outsiders, you are reducing the risk of contracting other respiratory infections like influenza or other bacterial infections. In a drive-thru, chances of a new infection are less.”

On beefing up the RT-PCR capacities, NMC Healthcare CEO Michael Davis said: “Fighting the pandemic is a collaborative effort between the regulatory bodies, the private and government healthcare sectors, and the communities we serve. As our country reaches its goal of vaccinating the entire population, we hope to see the symptoms associated with the Covid-19 virus lessen. Yet, we need to always adhere to best practice protocols to keep our families and loved ones safe, and this includes rigorous testing.”


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