A staffer checks a man's temperature
A staffer checks a man's temperature. Image Credit: AP

Abu Dhabi: Travellers who wish to take a rapid coronavirus screening test to enter Abu Dhabi emirate must now book their appointments on a dedicated website.

The Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee announced on Wednesday that the laser-based rapid tests at the Ghantoot site are now only available with prior bookings.

“Due to high demand for the laser-based DPI screening to enter Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee [has] approved a new process in which the service provider will only offer screenings based on pre-book Ed appointments via the website,” the Abu Dhabi Media Office announced on behalf of the Committee.

Pre-booked appointments can be made here.

At the same time, other travellers who can present a negative COVID-19 result after a regular PCR test from a heath facility or screening facility will also be allowed in to the emirate.

“Travellers with a negative COVID-19 test (PCR) result will continue to be allowed to enter the emirate withing 48 hours [of] receiving the result,” the statement said.

The rapid COVID-19 test was introduced this week at a special facility at Ghantoot, along the main Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway. Priced at Dh50 per person and producing results within seconds, the screening facility saw massive crowds of people queueing up.

This prompted authorities to temporarily close down the facility on Wednesday.

The rapid test was developed by Quantlase Imaging Lab, a medical arm of Abu Dhabi-based investment firm, International Holding Company (IHC). Senior executives at IHC affiliate, Tamouh Healthcare, said yesterday that the provider will soon introduce additional screening centres or tents in order to cater to the significant demand for the rapid tests.

The rapid tests detects inflammation markers in the blood using laser-enabled Diffractive Phase Interferometry (DPI) technology. In case a person tests positive on the rapid test, he must undergo a regular PCR test to confirm the result.

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Abu Dhabi emirate has has movement restrictions in place since May in order to limit the coronavirus outbreak. It has also implemented mass screenings in order to test, trace and isolate infected people. While residents are allowed to leave the emirate, anyone who wishes to enter the emirate must show proof that he or she is free from COVID-19 via a PCR test or a rapid test.