Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia opens free drive-through Covid-19 testing

Saudi has ramped up testing as it eases restrictions on movement in a bid to get more data on the outbreak

Drive through coronavirus testing centres have opened in Saudi Arabia in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam as the kingdom ramps up screening for Covid-19.

The Health Ministry run drive-through centres do 5-minute throat swabs free of charge for both residents and nationals. Each centre can test up to 5,000 people per day and as many as 600 can be being tested at the same time across all the sites.

“The demand for testing people for Covid-19 is growing, so it is important that we are able to provide a convenient and safe way to provide tests in a timely way and which makes the best use of our hard-working staff,” a Health Ministry official at the site in Jeddah said.

He added that while 600 swabs were carried out at the site on Wednesday at the official launch, they expected to do around 1,200 tests on Thursday.
The centres have two lanes with 12 testing stations where people are screened for Covid-19 and there is a special bay for those with special needs.

At the new centres, motorists drive to one of several stations where nurses in protective plastic suits, masks and face shields register the drivers, check their

temperatures and use swabs to take samples from the throat passage.
The kingdom brought in strict measures to counter the pandemic shutting borders, closing businesses, cancelling events and implementing curfews and travel restrictions. Many of those rules have been eased in recent weeks as the country seeks to allow people to resume a semblance of normality while preventing the health services being overwhelmed by cases.

Daily confirmed cases in Saudi Arabia exceeded 4,000 for the fifth straight day on Thursday, with the health ministry announcing 4,757 new cases in the last 24 hours and 48 deaths.

The latest data brings the official infections tally to 145,991 with 1,139 deaths.