Coronavirus: Abu Dhabi approves Covid-19 facial scanners after positive trial

Scanners to be installed at certain shopping malls, some residential areas and all land and air entry points from June 28

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Health officials in Abu Dhabi have approved the use of special scanners to detect Covid-19.

The move follows a trial of the technology in Ghantoot, Yas Island and Mussaffah, Abu Dhabi Media Office said on Sunday.

It said 20,000 people had been tested in the pilot and the results showed more than “90 per cent sensitivity”.

The Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee will now install them at certain shopping malls, some residential areas and all land and air entry points from June 28.

If the scanner identifies a person as being potentially infected with Covid-19, they will not be permitted to enter and must take a PCR test within 24 hours.

The technology can detect a possible Covid-19 infection by measuring electromagnetic waves, “which change when the [ribonucleic acid RNA] particles of the virus are present in the person’s body”, the media office reported. RNA typically acts as a messenger carrying instructions from DNA.

Jamal Al Kaabi, undersecretary at the Department of Health in Abu Dhabi, said the use of the scanners underlined the emirate's commitment to protecting public health.

“Abu Dhabi has adopted an integrated strategy to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, based on increased testing to ensure safe entry into the emirate, vaccination and the continued implementation of precautionary measures,” he said.

Dr Al Kaabi said the scanners would be used alongside other screening methods such as PCR testing.

The system was developed by the EDE Research Institute Abu Dhabi.