How and where to get a Covid-19 test in Dubai and across the UAE

From drive-though screenings to shopping malls, the process has been made simple

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The UAE is stepping up Covid-19 testing rates in an effort to drive down infections.

A mass screening strategy has been a crucial component of the nation's bid to combat the virus since the outbreak began.

This month, the Emirates became the first country to carry out a number of tests in excess of its population. The UAE – home to about 10 million people – outstripped this number by doing about 12.5 million tests to date.

The aim of widespread testing is to detect the pathogen early, allowing people to seek immediate treatment and avoid spreading it to others.

The key to making this policy successful is to ensure testing is widely available and cheap.

Here, The National looks how you can get a hassle-free Covid-19 test.

How much does a test cost?

The cost of Covid-19 tests have been slashed in recent weeks as part of a major drive to increase testing rates.

Residents in Dubai can receive a nasal swab for a reduced price of Dh150 ($40) at government-run hospitals.

Previously, the test typically cost Dh370. It is still free for those suspected of contracting the virus, as well as those in vulnerable groups.

Private hospitals in the emirate are not allowed to charge more than Dh250 per test, Dubai Health Authority said last month.

Most testing centres in the city offer walk-in appointments and guarantee results within 24 to 48 hours.

In some clinics, patients have the option to pay an additional charge for an express service to receive test results within a few hours.

Government health centres

Government-run hospitals in Dubai offer PCR tests for Dh150, but visitors are asked to book in advance owing to high demand.

The test is available at the emirate's four main government hospitals – Dubai Hospital, Rashid Hospital, Latifa Women and Children Hospital, Hatta Hospital – and 13 primary health centres.

Other testing sites can be found at Al Shabab Al Ahli and Al Nasr football clubs, Al Rashidiya Majlis, Al Hamriya Port Majlis and Jumeirah 1 Port Majlis.

A test can be booked by calling 800 342.

Private hospitals

Prices vary at private health centres, but are now capped at Dh250.

Here are some of the offers available in the emirate:

• Emirates Specialty Hospital, Dubai Healthcare City, offers the PCR test for Dh200 – between 11pm and 6am – and for Dh220 from 6am until 11pm. The results are available in 12 hours. No prior appointment is required. More information is available by calling 058 1047 987.

NMC Royal Hospital, Dubai Investment Park, provides the test for Dh250 with results returned in 48 hours. Appointments are necessary and can be booked by calling 04 810 8800 or by visiting the hospital's website.

• Zulekha Hospital Dubai, Al Nahda, offers Covid-19 tests for Dh250 from 9am until 11pm, without an appointment. An additional Dh60 registration fee will be charged.

King's College Hospital Dubai, Alkhail Road, has a walk-in testing service 24 hours a day and is priced at Dh250.

National screening centres

Seha, Abu Dhabi's public hospital operator, runs 24 drive-through testing centres nationwide. There are several drive-through centres in Dubai, including in City Walk, Al Khawaneej and Port Rashid, and several in the Northern Emirates.

The test is free for those showing symptoms, Emiratis, residents over 50 and those suffering from chronic diseases, pregnant women and people with disabilities.

A Dh180 fee applies for anyone else who wishes to take the test. Bookings can be made on the Seha app.

During a major door-to-door testing drive in the summer, much of the Abu Dhabi's population was tested for free.


A look inside a Covid testing kiosk in a mall in Dubai

A look inside a Covid testing kiosk in a mall in Dubai

Dubai Health Authority set up testing sites in three Majid Al Futtaim malls – Mall of the Emirates, City Centre Deira and Mirdif City Centre – this month.

For Dh150, citizens, residents and tourists can undergo a nasal swab test from certified staff and receive the results within 24 hours.

Bookings for a PCR test appointment can be made using the authority's smartphone app or by calling 800342.

Testing at home

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, launched the National Home Testing Programme in April.

The initiative supports people with disabilities who cannot easily reach testing centres.

Covid-19 test bookings can be made by calling 02 596 8689.

DPI border test

A rapid screening centre was established on the Abu Dhabi-Dubai border in July to allow commuters to travel between the two emirates.

The Ghantoot centre offers a diffractive phase interferometry, or DPI, test that produces results within five minutes.

The test uses a laser to scan a blood sample for signs of surging red blood cells, which is an early sign the body is fighting off a virus.

The DPI test offered at the border is not as definitive as the PCR test, but delivers results in a matter of minutes rather than hours or days, ensuring access to Abu Dhabi is open to people travelling from other emirates.