NAT COVIE TESTING-1610946522202
Paramedics collecting the swab samples at a coronavirus drive-through screening station by Dubai Health Authority at Al Nasr Club in Dubai Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: The ongoing COVID-19 awareness campaign in the UAE is eliciting a huge response from residents as is evident from the turnout at all polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing centres throughout the country.

Dr Abdul Aneez

"Since the past fortnight, we have seen an increase in the number of people availing the PCR test."

Healthcare experts are seeing this as a positive community response. Explaining the phenomenon, Dr Abdul Aneez, assistant medical director, Medeor Hospital, Dubai, told Gulf News: “The UAE has been a frontrunner in conducting the maximum number of COVID-19 tests since the beginning. Testing is a crucial factor in detecting infections, especially among asymptomatic people. Even though the UAE has rolled out the vaccination programme, more people are undergoing COVID-19 tests.”"Since the past fortnight, we have seen an increase in the number of people availing the PCR test."

Travel requirements

There are multiple reasons for this, chief among which is the stipulated requirements for travellers to and from the country, but also commuters within the UAE. For example, those who travel to the emirate of Abu Dhabi have to produce a negative COVID-19 test, said Dr Aneez.

Better safe than sorry

More tests means better precautions. Doctors feel the new trend indicates that residents are no longer in denial and have banished the fear of getting tested.

Reduced prices of PCR tests

All testing centres, both public and private, have registered a surge in the number of people lining up for COVID-19 PCR test. A volunteer at one of the cntres told Gulf News: “Prices of the PCR testhave been slashed. People are finding it more affordable. Those who feel they might have had some exposure during the previous week when people were holding get-togethers at home of up to 30 people, do not want to take a chance if they feel they have been exposed. The slightest hint of cough or cold and people head straight to the centres.”

Explaining the rush at the Aster PCR testing centres, Dr Fatemeh Aghanasiri, general practitioner — Family Medicine, Aster Clinics, Arabian Ranches, said: “There are multiple reasons for the high demand in PCR tests these days.

Dr Fatemeh Aghanasiri

"People are now responding faster and getting themselves tested for peace of mind."

People are concerned, especially after the New Year holidays, in view of lots of travel in and out of UAE. People are now responding faster and getting themselves tested for peace of mind.”

Dr Aghanasiri explained that increased testing was also happening due to company regulations where the staff are being asked to undergo the nasal swab test as a precautionary policy. She explained: “I had few COVID-19 patients who had completed their two-week quarantine and were asked by their companies to bring a negative COVID-19 test report to be able to return to their workplaces. This resulted in multiple testings even after completing the quarantine course. After two weeks of quarantine, re-testing is not recommended.”

Increased maturity

Dr Rasha Alani, specialist Family Medicine at the Medcare Medical Centre in Al Khawaneej, said the sudden surge in PCR testing over the last fortnight was a sign of increased awareness and maturity on part of the community members. “We live in an educated society with an excellent health awareness system.”

Dr Rasha Alani

"The more people undergo PCR tests, the more specific health data we will able to collate in our battle against the pandemic."

Do not lower your guard

The doctors advised that despite the arrival of vaccines, people should not lower their guard and must observe the protocols of social distancing, wearing of masks in public, hand washing and use of hand sanitisers.

“We advise people to continue with check-ups and get the vaccine and never leave the habit of wearing a face mask and maintaining hand-hygiene,”said Dr Alani.