Coronavirus: new laser testing facility opened on Abu Dhabi-Dubai border

The test costs Dh50 and results take just five minutes

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A new screening facility that provides Covid-19 test results in just five minutes has been launched on the border between Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

The test costs Dh50 and is available at the last exit on the Sheikh Zayed Road before the Ghantoot checkpoint.

Until now, anyone wishing to travel to Abu Dhabi from Dubai has been required to show proof of a negative coronavirus test taken prior to their journey.

Now, motorists and their passengers can be screened at the border, making it far easier to move between the two emirates.

“Travellers to the emirate of Abu Dhabi can be screened for Covid-19 on entry,” a spokesman for the Abu Dhabi Media Office said on Tuesday.

“A negative result will allow entry to Abu Dhabi, while a positive result will lead to further testing.”

The new testing technology has been developed by QuantLase Imaging Lab, part of Abu Dhabi investment firm International Holdings Company (IHC).

The technique is described as low-cost, user-friendly and non-invasive, meaning mass testing can be conducted cheaply and efficiently.

The procedure, known as Diffractive Phase Interferometry, or DPI, uses lasers to identify Covid-19 infections within seconds.

Those behind its development have said the test amounted to a "paradigm shift in tackling the spread of the coronavirus”.

“What we do is take a blood sample using a lancet needle, which is the same as the one used for diabetes," said Peter Abraam, chief strategy and growth officer at IHC.

"The blood sample is tested using the DPI technology [and] the lasers detect if there is an abnormality in the cells specific to Covid-19.

“It is as quick as you walking in there, wiping your finger with an alcohol swab, then pricking your finger. The blood is put on a slide that goes into a machine.

"The results then appear within seconds. This test allows you to do mass screening and eventually helps with the logistics of managing large crowds.”

On Tuesday, officials from the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee said travellers who took the test would be provided with a certificate to confirm a negative result. Anyone found to test positive "must return to their residence and avoid contact with others".

More testing stations are expected to be established in the coming weeks. Tests will be free to all senior citizens and those with disabilities.

Speaking to The National in May this year, Dr Pramod Kumar, who leads QuantLase Imaging Lab's team of researchers, said the test was able to combine precision, speed and scale.

"The device is suitable for use not only in hospitals and public places such as cinemas and shopping malls, but with a little hands-on training it can be used for in-house testing and monitoring," he said.

"We believe it will be a game-changer in tackling the spread of the coronavirus.

"As far as early stage detection is concerned, our DPI technique is capable of detecting as soon as the blood cell gets infected."


Around the UAE during the pandemic