Easy access Covid-19 testing centre for workers opens in Dubai

Tent outside immigration office will be available for everyone with PCR tests costing Dh80 for labourers

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A large tent has been set up in the car park of the immigration authority in Dubai’s Jafiliya area to provide cheap PCR tests for workers.

Labourers will pay Dh80 ($21) to be tested at the centre, which will be easy for them to reach when they need to be screened for Covid-19 before returning home, switching jobs or when they need to change their visa.

The centre officially opened on Tuesday and will be able to conduct 1,000 PCR tests a day. It will be open daily from 7am until 11pm.

I don’t have my own car so reaching clinics costs money that I don’t have to spare
Arijit Malkith, welder

The centre was set up on the doorstep of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs and will serve the thousands of people who use the immigration offices.

The regular price at the new facility will be Dh125 for a PCR test. Immigration staff will pay Dh65 and their families will be charged Dh100.

“Travel has resumed and PCR samples are mandatory, but there was nothing available at lower prices for labourers in Jafiliya,” said Dr Sanjay Paithankar, head of the Right Health group that runs cheap medical clinics for low-income workers in the UAE.

“Many workers visit the immigration office for a new visa, or they have a fine they need to settle before they leave for the airport. They need a PCR test for all this. Clinics normally charge Dh150 or more and this facility keeps it at Dh80 for workers.”

Right Health also runs two tents in Al Quoz and the Jebel Ali industrial area.

The lowest cost for PCR tests in Dubai is Dh50. They are administered by Seha, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company.

The service is open to residents and citizens across the country and in four locations in Dubai, of which three are drive-through centres.

“We realised there needs to be a testing centre near a metro station to make it easily accessible for workers and anyone else who needs a test as well,” Dr Paithankar said.

“Our charge is less than the regular clinics so there will be interest from bachelors staying in the Bur Dubai, Karama areas and families who need to be tested.”

The new Covid-19 PCR test centre in Dubai's Jafiliya area will be able to conduct 1,000 tests a day. Ruel Pableo for The National

The new centre quickly drew people from the area, particularly those who do not have access to private transport.

Arijit Malkith, a welder moving to work with a maintenance company, said cheaper tests in the city centre would benefit him.

“I don’t have my own car so reaching clinics costs money that I don’t have to spare,” he said.

“I need to do many PCR tests in the next few weeks. This will save me a lot of money.

“[The new centre] will help many people so I will definitely tell more people about it.”

Irfan Masood, an insurance sector employee, visited the immigration office to inquire about a lost Emirates ID and stopped by the centre for a PCR test.

“This is convenient because you don’t have to drive to a clinic. I was fortunate to spot this just outside the GDRFA office so I didn’t have to go looking for a place that did PCR tests,” he said.

Updated: November 10, 2021, 6:35 AM