Two-week wait for appointments at laser testing centre in Abu Dhabi

Centre in Ghantoot gives rapid results to let commuters enter emirate

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 26 JULY 2020. HOT WEATHER STANDALONE. As the summer temperatures keep in the mid 40 degrees life continues with the current pandemic circumstances.  (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Razmig Bedirian. Section: National.
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A rapid Covid-19 screening centre set up to help commuters gain easier access to Abu Dhabi is fully booked until August 14.

The laser-testing site, near Ghantoot, close to the border with Dubai, had such demand when it opened this month that it switched to offering its services by appointment only.

The centre offers a diffractive phase interferometry, or DPI, test, which produces results within five minutes for Dh50.

To gain entry to the emirate by road, commuters must present proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken in the previous 48 hours.

Faisal Hasan, 33, a consultant in Dubai, is one of those unable to book an appointment.

“I tried to book an appointment for my family but was unable to find a single slot,” Mr Hasan said.

“I hope that the requirement to have a Covid-19 test to enter Abu Dhabi will be removed soon.”

The centre carries out about 4,000 tests a day, with officials aiming to reach a capacity of 10,000.

It uses a laser to scan blood samples for signs of surging red blood cells, an early sign that the body is fighting a virus.

The technique was developed by QuantLase Imaging Lab, which partially runs the site and is part of the International Holdings Company in Abu Dhabi.

“Our main goal is to facilitate tests to perform a quick check-up. Families and the elderly always get priority,” said Abdullah Al Rashdi, a spokesman for Tamouh Healthcare, which is affiliated with the investment company.

The DPI procedure offered at the border is not as definitive as the PCR nasal swab, but the results take mere minutes to appear instead of hours or days.

There are plans to open more testing sites.

The Ghantoot centre has more than 25 employees and 12 queuing lanes with 260 waiting points to ensure physical distancing is maintained.