In the war against Coronavirus, an effective strategy recommended by World Health Organisation that is increasingly gaining acceptance worldwide is this — test more and more people.
More testing means more positive cases, giving nations a clearer view of the infection. In the absence of mass testing, countries will remain in dark about the extent of infection which will spread farther and wider, overwhelming the health care infrastructure and killing more.
While the number of positive cases in the UAE and Saudi Arabia will continue to rise due to high number of tests, the strategy will help both the countries in effectively identifying hotspots and containing the virus
The UAE and Saudi Arabia, two leading countries in the region have embraced this path. Both countries are carrying out tests to cover a wide section of the population.
On April 25, the UAE announced it has tested over a million since the outbreak of the pandemic. The UAE has deployed a large number of health care workers at screening centres, set up 14 drive-through testing facilities and has a dedicated service for people of determination.
As a result of this testing, health authorities are aware of the existing and emerging hotspots, helping them to act swiftly to contain the virus. One good example is Al Naif and Al Rais localities in Dubai where door-to-door testing was carried out with the help of private sector and the virus was effectively contained by sealing the two localities.
The restrictions in these two areas were lifted on Sunday evening following an all clear from the health officials. On a daily basis, the UAE is screening up to 25,000 people and teams of health workers are conducting tests 24X7 even during Ramadan.
Similarly, while easing 24-hour curfew on Sunday, Saudi Arabia announced a $265 million deal with a Chinese company to boost testing in the kingdom.
Under this deal, Beijing Genome Institute (BGI) will test a total of 9 million people in the country which will also set up six regional laboratories and one mobile lab with a capacity of 10,000 tests daily.
Till Monday, the kingdom had detected a total of 18,814 positive cases and 144 deaths. The kingdom has taken the right step to expand testing and focus on areas with potentially high infections.
While the number of positive cases in the UAE and Saudi Arabia will continue to rise due to high number of tests, the strategy will help both the countries in effectively identifying hotspots and containing the virus.
On Monday, US President Donald Trump unveiled a testing blueprint which involves expanded state capacity to test, set up more monitoring centres and improve contact tracing.
In the coming weeks, as countries work simultaneously to allow business and economic activities, they must also ramp up testing infrastructure to get a clear picture of the infection and prevent undetected surge of positive cases.