NAT 200803 DPI SCREEN TEST ARAMZAN 15-1597145035847
Paramedic staff at screening centre at the Ghantoot Rapid testing facility on Dubai-Abu Dhabi border. The procedure, known as Diffractive Phase Interferometry, or DPI, uses lasers to identify Covid-19 infections in less then 5minutes. 3rd August 2020. Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News Image Credit:

Abu Dhabi: The newer rapid COVID-19 testing centres across the UAE offer drive-through services, and are operating seven days a week in order to facilitate easy access into Abu Dhabi Emirate.

The seven recently introduced facilities are operated by Abu Dhabi’s public health provider, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha), and they offer testing for COVID-19 using a laser-based technology developed in Abu Dhabi, Seha said in a statement on Tuesday.

The tests are an alternative to the traditional PCR tests for COVID-19, which take longer to yield results compared to the five minutes taken for the rapid tests.

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Rapid test development

Abu Dhabi Emirate has had movement restrictions in place since May, and require travellers to provide proof that they are negative for COVID-19 before they are allowed to enter. Initially, this meant undergoing PCR tests, but these were more expensive at Dh370 per person, while also requiring more time.

Abu Dhabi’s Quantlase Imaging Lab, the medical arm of investment firm, the International Holding Company, developed the rapid test. It uses laser, and a process known as Diffractive Phase Interferometry on a blood sample, to detect inflammation markers in the blood.

First rapid testing facility

It was first introduced in a facility at the Abu Dhabi-Dubai border in Ghantoot, and tests were priced at Dh50 per person. The non-drive-through facility was run by private provider, Tamouh Healthcare, and the convenient process attracted people in droves.

New centres

As Gulf News reported, Seha launched other facilities in response. These include three new drive-through centres in Abu Dhabi Emirate — including at the Zayed Sports City and Abu Dhabi Corniche in the capital, as well as at the Hili area in Al Ain — as well as four drive-through centres in other emirates. These facilities outside Abu Dhabi are located in Dubai’s Rashid Port and Al Khawaneej, as well as Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah.

Timings

Drive-through centres in Abu Dhabi operate from 8AM to 8PM every day, while the others are open from 10AM to 8PM.

Pre-booking

In a statement sent on Tuesday, Seha urged those wanting to enter Abu Dhabi to pre-book an appointment on the Seha app.

“A small blood sample will be collected with results appearing in minutes. If the test result shows that no swab is needed, an SMS will be received that will enable the customer to enter Abu Dhabi within 48 hours from the test result,” Seha said.

If the result on the rapid test is positive, people are required to undertake PCR tests via nasal swab at the same facility, and pay an additional Dh320. They must then stay in isolation until the PCR test result becomes available.

More centres soon

Dr. Noura Al Ghaithi, Chief Operations Officer at Seha’s Ambulatory Health Services, said more rapid testing centres will be introduced soon.

“All they need to do is book an appointment through the Seha app and get tested from the comfort of their own cars at the centres in Abu Dhabi or Al Ain before leaving Abu Dhabi, or at one of the selected screening centres in the Northern Emirates before returning,” she added.

Age restriction

The Seha has previously clarified that the rapid tests can be performed on people aged 12 years or more.