Abu Dhabi's new Al Hosn rules prompt thousands to flock to Covid-19 screening centres

Medics saw a flood of people sign up for the vaccine on Thursday, while PCR test numbers rose sharply

Related: Free PCR tests in Abu Dhabi - Health workers see screening numbers double in a day

Tens of thousands of residents have been rushing to screening and vaccination centres in Abu Dhabi to activate their green passes.

Centres across the emirate were packed yesterday with those seeking PCR tests and others with pre-booked vaccination appointments.

Waiting times reached up to three hours at some centres, according to people in the queues, an increase that happened after the latest government regulations came into force on Tuesday.

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We are happy to see this enthusiasm to take the vaccine

The green pass system is being used across public areas including parks, beaches, malls, hotels and large supermarkets. Gyms, swimming pools, entertainment centres, restaurants and cafes also require proof for entry.

To obtain a green pass on the Al Hosn app, people must be vaccinated and/or tested for Covid-19.

Both private and public screening centres have since been inundated with visitors.

The number of visitors requesting PCR tests and vaccinations has doubled at Bareen International Hospital in Mohamed bin Zayed City.

"From June 15 onwards we have seen a 100 per cent rise in demand for Covid-19 PCR tests. For Covid vaccines we have seen a double growth in the number of inquiries from the general public," said Dr Amaka Uzu, a consultant at Bareen International Hospital.

"Covid-19 vaccine appointments are fully booked until the second week of next month."

Seha's drive-through screening centres are serving thousands of visitors, up from a few hundred daily.

Waiting times have also increased from several minutes to no less than half an hour at drive-through centres.

Additional support has been called in to manage the crowds in some areas.

"We have seen an increase in users, particularly after the recent announcement, but we are happy to see this enthusiasm to take the vaccine," said Dr Fawaghi Al Naqbi, manager of the Seha drive-through screening centre on the Corniche.

The Seha centre has four drive-through lanes – one for vaccinations and three for PCR and DPI tests. Demand for both is currently equally high and waiting hours have increased even though vaccination bookings are made online.

Each of the four lanes used to serve around 180 drivers per day but, since Tuesday, there are around 1,000 vehicles in each line, according to Dr Al Naqbi.

The drive-through is open every week day from 8am to 8pm.

Both the Sinopharm and Pfizer vaccines are offered at Seha’s screening centres, which are open 8am until 8pm.

“I’m here to get the PCR test for the green pass,” said Al Shaimaa Sakr, 40, from Egypt.

She has not yet been vaccinated, having applied for an exemption on the assumption that she could not receive doses while breastfeeding.

"They turned down my request and said breastfeeding women could take the vaccine."

To get the green status on the Al Hosn App, unvaccinated individuals must have PCR tests taken every three days.

As a result, many who had postponed taking their shots have been booking appointments.

Constanaca Sanchec, 37, from Colombia, said she was waiting for a PCR test. She received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in April and will need to get a PCR test every week until her second shot to maintain the green status.

Anyone who has received their first dose and is waiting for an appointment for their second will keep their green status for seven days following a negative test.

“I want to go out and go to the mall which is why I am getting the test done today,” she said.

Many of those coming to the drive-through screening centres were getting their children vaccinated before the next academic school year.

Christeen Mesho was there with her daughter, 17.

“My daughter is going to university in the US and as a requirement has to get the Pfizer vaccine,” the Syrian national said.

Awais Ahshraf from Pakistan was also getting his three children aged 13, 14 and 15 vaccinated before the next academic school year.