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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 1 March 2021

Coronavirus: up to 200,000 labourers to be screened for Covid-19

Private medical groups have been brought in to test workers across in the northern emirates

Health authorities have rolled out a mass Covid-19 screening programme for as many as 200,000 labourers across the northern emirates.

Checks are being carried out at labour accommodation and workplaces in Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman and Sharjah as part of measures to contain the virus.

Close to 10,000 workers have already been screened since the initiative was launched on Thursday by NMC Healthcare, under the direction of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.

A total of 57 workers were transferred to government hospitals to be tested for the virus after displaying symptoms during screening.

"We are covering Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah as of the moment and we have screened almost 10,000 labourers, aged between 20 and 45," said Pradeep George, general manager of NMC Healthcare in the Northern Emirates.

"Seventeen labourers from Sharjah, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain were transferred to government hospitals to investigate their condition and get tested for Covid-19," he said.

"We have 90 team members as of now working on the programme and covered so far five areas in Sharjah, one in Umm Al Quwain, one in Ajman and we are expecting to move on to another one and already covered two accommodations in RAK."

Forty other suspected cases were found in RAK and those involved were transferred to government hospitals to be tested.

The screenings involve checks on temperature, respiratory rate, pulse and blood pressure for labourers working at construction sites and in other forms of employment, such as for cleaning and manufacturing firms.

"If one of the workers was found with high temperature, had a travel history to other infected countries or suffers from respiratory issues such as shortness of breath, he will be transferred immediately for further tests," said Mr George.

The initial screening process typically takes between 10 to 15 minutes.

"We also provide them with tips and spreading awareness on how to stay safe, clean and practice social distancing, along with providing them with hand sanitisers," he said.

Labourers are screened for Covid-19 at BMJ industries in Ras Al Khaimah. Chris Whiteoak/The National
Labourers are screened for Covid-19 at BMJ industries in Ras Al Khaimah. Chris Whiteoak/The National

Mr George said that the NMC team is ready to screen more than 200,000 labourers.

"We will not stop screening unless the regulating authorities ask us to stop and we cover areas depending on the authorities' approvals," he said.

"It is part of our social responsibility, and we are ready to provide our services to fight this virus."

Workers who suffer from other health issues will be provided with medication as part of the campaign. The team will also perform daily screenings on workers who were in contact with confirmed cases.

Updated: April 5, 2020 10:25 AM

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