Everyone in Abu Dhabi will be tested for Covid-19 if that is what it takes to eliminate the virus, a top health official said on Thursday.
Dr Jamal Al Kaabi, acting undersecretary for Abu Dhabi's Department of Health, told The National medics would work their way through densely populated areas of the emirate to offer free testing.
“Our target is to eventually eliminate the virus. We will take all the necessary actions to eradicate the virus and ensure that the Emirate is free of Covid-19 – even if it requires us to test the whole population to get a handle on the virus,” he said.
This mass testing programme is part of the emirate’s early detection strategy, aimed at identifying, isolating and treating Covid-19 patients before they can spread the virus.
“People who live in high-density areas, can expect a visit from the Department of Health, Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre and/or Seha teams, to run their tests within the safety of their homes,” he said.
The UAE has conducted more than three million coronavirus tests, making it the top nation for per capita screenings.
Abu Dhabi closed its borders to other emirates and between its main regions last month to enable the accelerated testing programme.
“With many members of the community frequently travelling between Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Dhafra, we believe that this temporary ban on movement in Abu Dhabi is necessary to ensure that the testing programme runs smoothly and as planned,” Dr Al Kaabi said.
More than 388,000 residents in Abu Dhabi’s high-density areas have been tested to date.
“We are optimistic that this ban will have a positive impact and will contribute to ultimately decreasing Covid-19 cases in Abu Dhabi,” he said.
Dr Al Kaabi said people whose work falls under a “high-risk category”, including those who work at malls, airports and restaurant, will most likely need to be tested every two weeks.
“The Department of Health wants to ensure that everyone in these areas gets tested, so that immediate action can be taken in the case that further positive cases are identified. This approach will hopefully contribute to making high density areas clear of the virus,” he said.
“There is no timescale for Covid-19 testing,” Dr Al Kaabi said.
Testing is free for all Emiratis and their domestic workers, people with disabilities, pregnant women. Residents over the age of 50 or who have symptoms or previously came into contact with someone who had the virus can also be tested without charge.
The testing campaign is now being expanded to include more areas of the emirate.
“This will ensure that these areas are free of Covid-19 cases and that those who have tested positive do not come in close proximity to more vulnerable members of the community, such as the elderly or chronic patients.”