Coronavirus: Hundreds of thousands tested in Abu Dhabi amid movement ban

A home screening programme will be stepped up this week as the movement ban is extended

More than 388,000 people across Abu Dhabi have been tested since the emirate closed its borders two weeks ago.

Local authorities imposed a movement ban on residents and Emiratis on June 2, restricting travel in and out of the capital as well as within its major regions.

Initially due to last week, the measure has since been extended to June 23 to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 and facilitate the emirate's mass-testing programme.

On Tuesday, the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Committee for the Covid-19 Pandemic said people could leave the emirate without a permit but would require one to re-enter and would be subject to "precautionary health measures".

Movement between the emirate's regions – Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Dhafra – remains restricted unless the traveller obtains a permit using the police portal before the journey.

On Wednesday, officials said there was no time limit on re-entering Abu Dhabi if someone leaves the emirate, provided they have a permit to return.

The measure does not stop people leaving their homes, other than during the nightly disinfection hours of 10pm to 6am.

Permit allocation is at the discretion of Abu Dhabi Police and is determined based on requirements in the application, they said.

Authorities added that the movement ban allowed the Covid-19 testing drive to continue and be implemented in densely populated areas of the emirate.

The Home Screening programme will also be stepped up this week to ensure people who live far away from screening centres, the elderly and other vulnerable members of the community can be tested from the comfort of their home. Focus areas for this drive will be announced "in due course".

Abu Dhabi has adopted an early testing strategy to identify, isolate and treat patients before they can spread the virus or develop severe symptoms. This has led to a decrease in the number of patients needing to be admitted to hospitals for Covid-19, officials said.

The programme is being continually evaluated to determine the success of the drive and identify areas to be targeted for testing.

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