|28 March, 2020

Pre-emptive Covid-19 screening for self-quarantine residents in Dubai area

Social workers on-site said the residents are mostly shop executives in Naif area.

People shop at a supermarket, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, March 26, 2020 Image used for illustrator purpose only.

People shop at a supermarket, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, March 26, 2020 Image used for illustrator purpose only.

REUTERS/Christopher Pike

A group of community leaders, medical professionals, social workers, and volunteers have come forward to assist local authorities to run pre-emptive medical check-ups on the economically vulnerable residents of Dubai, Khaleej Times has learnt.

Indian social workers and volunteers have teamed up with Dubai Health Authority, Dubai Police, and Aster Clinics and Hospitals to help vulnerable residents who have gone into self-quarantine over fears of the Covid-19 coronavirus. The exercise began on Saturday, March 28.

Help in the form of Covid-19 tests and routine medical checks are being extended to residents who are living in congested neighbourhoods of the emirate, including the Naif Area. Jobilal Vavachan, CEO of Aster Clinics and Pharmacies, told Khaleej Times: "This is a pre-emptive measure initiated by the DHA, and full credit should go out to them for reaching out to us."

Why the workers chose to self-isolate

Social workers on-site said the residents are mostly shop executives in Naif area and their concerns stemmed from the high volume of visitors in these areas.

Naseer Vatanapally, an Indian social worker leading a team of volunteers, said: "About five days ago, I received calls from residents in the area who said they have self-isolated. A lot of people visit shops in the locality, and some of them could have had displayed symptoms of the common flu." A majority of the Naif residents hail from the sub-continent and it is home to tightly-packed residential and commercial establishments.

Vatanapally explained, "These are simple shop workers, and many of them are not educated. Approximately 100 residents living in five buildings in the area have self-isolated. After they expressed their fears, we informed local authorities who swung into action."

Following which, a team from Dubai Health Authority, Dubai Police, Aster Clinics, and other social groups including the Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre (KMCC) came forward to help the self-quarantined individuals and run the required tests on them.

Vatanapally added: "We've had immense support from Indian businessman Shamsudeen Muhaideen, the Indian Consulate and Dubai Police."

Consul General of India Vipul said, "We're aware that there have been some concerns raised from the Naif Area, and are happy that community members have come forward to provide help to people who are isolating and in quarantine."

Process of medical testing

An Aster official said approximately 40 medical professionals from Aster, split into teams consisting of doctors, nurses, and lab technicians have been assigned to residents living in five apartment complexes in the Naif area.

Vavachan said, "Aster has organised doctors, nurses, and a paramedics team for the collection of samples from self-quarantined individuals in consultation with Dubai Health Authority. They are also undergoing check-ups."

He added, "It is important to note that the whole process is being completed in an organised manner, with assistance from Dubai Police as well."

Vavachan explained, "When we started, we had a team of 25 medical professionals. However, the numbers have gone up to 40, and we are operating in five places simultaneously. All activities are within Naif as it is a congested area. DHA took this measure proactively in partnership with the community."

"The residents are undergoing basic screening, and we are collecting swabs of the patients. There is a doctor on the ground, and nurses and other paramedics accompany them. The residents go through basic triage where their temperature is tested, and they are looked for symptoms. We spend 10 minutes with each patient. It will continue till 7 pm today," he stated.


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