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A Gulf News staff member undergoes a COVID-19 test, organised in partnership with Aster Hospitals, in Dubai on Sunday 29 November. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Gulf News has undertaken an initiative in association with a private hospital to offer free polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and HBA1C (to check the level of blood sugar over the past three months) tests for all its employees.

The free tests are being conducted over three days — November 29, 30 and December 7 — in partnership with Aster Hospitals. Gulf News employees will be able to avail the benefit of the health campaign at the Safa and Dubai Investment Park offices from 10am until 5.30pm on the designated days. Gulf News staff members have welcomed their employer’s initiative, aimed at their welfare and good health.

A Gulf News staff member (name withheld upon request) said: “My work and my son’s online classes barely leave me time for a doctor’s visit or schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 test. I work from office and have an aged person at home, besides my husband. So when my company offered this service for free, I decided to take it.”

She added: “I wanted to check if I was asymptomatic for COVID-19. Being pre-diabetic it was a plus that I got to do a blood sugar test as well. I had been procrastinating getting one done for almost a year now. It’s great that we staff members could get this done for free of cost. It is a very helpful initiative during the pandemic.”

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During the tests, the staff members were advised to maintain social distancing at all times. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

K.C. Nissar, Director — HR, Gulf News, said: “We are all for the good health of our employees. We were able to tie up with Aster Hospitals for an initiative like this and our staff have responded well.” The move by the company is also in line with curbing the spread of coronavirus in the UAE. “Staff members have been advised to book their appointments for the [designated] days by providing their name and mobile number and they are required to carry their Emirates ID for the test,” he explained.

During the test, staff have been advised to wear their masks and maintain social distancing at all times. A maximum of 75-80 staff members are being tested each day on the basis of advance registrations and on a first-come-first-served basis.

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A maximum of 75-80 Gulf News staff members are being tested at the office premises each day. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Nissar urged all employers to take a similar initiative to provide tests for its employees. “We have managed to do this — thanks to our partnership with Aster Hospitals. Other companies can look into their resources and see how best they can help their staff with these tests.”

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Gulf News employees are being offered tests for coronavirus as well as blood sugar levels. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

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Rajashree Krishnamurthy, executive, operations, Aster DM Healthcare, said both the tests take only about seven minutes. “Our team is ready. They will quickly check the registration of the staff. The blood sample is then collected and then the staff conduct the PCR test. This is a great initiative for employers to provide this benefit to their staff. We are happy to be working with Gulf News on this. So far, 633 Gulf News staff have registered for the tests, which is a massive number,” she said. It will go a long way in curbing the spread of the virus and helping staff keep a tab on their health, she added.