COVID-19: UAE conducts more than 60mln PCR tests

The UAE has a rate of 6,058.94 RT-PCR tests per 1,000 people

A member of medical staff wearing a protective face mask and gloves takes a swab from a man during drive-thru coronavirus disease testing (COVID-19) at a screening centre in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates March 30, 2020.

A member of medical staff wearing a protective face mask and gloves takes a swab from a man during drive-thru coronavirus disease testing (COVID-19) at a screening centre in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates March 30, 2020.

REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

UAE - Massive vaccination and screening drives make the UAE one of the top countries in fighting Covid-19, according to medical experts.

Local health authorities conducted more than 60 million RT-PCR tests, taking the UAE among the top countries globally in terms of tests conducted per capita. According to Our World in Data, with a total of 60,215,918 tests, the UAE stands at a rate of 6,058.94 tests per 1,000 people, behind Cyprus. The UAE and Denmark have been the only countries to consistently feature in the top five since the start of the pandemic. Recent entrants include Slovakia and Austria.

The UAE’s proactive decision-making and robust strategies have seen the country lead the world rankings not just in Covid-19 vaccination rate but in RT-PCR screenings too. This also resulted in controlling the number of Covid-19 cases in the country. After a spike in June, the number of Covid-19 cases has come down in the past few days.

On Friday, the Ministry of Health and Prevention reported 1,529 new cases. After the highs recorded in June, the past six days of this month have seen the count of new infections slip below 1,600.

Medical experts underlined that from the early days of the pandemic, the health authorities have been successful in containing and controlling the spread of the virus through a strong testing infrastructure.

Dr Jacob Cherian, specialist internal medicine and medical director, Medcare Medical Centers, Dubai, said that mass testing initiative has played a major role in tracing and isolating positive patients, and hence controlling the spread of the infections.

“The UAE’s containment efforts of this pandemic have been focused on testing, tracing contacts and treatment (isolation) of positive patients. This was achieved in the UAE only because of the extensive RT-PCR screening. Following this, the active role of the health authorities in tracing the contacts of positive patients and providing isolation facilities when required for positive cases has helped UAE to contain the pandemic very well,” said Dr Cherian.

The number of tests per day has consistently surged from an average of 10,000 by the end of March 2020, to 120,000 in November and 270,000 so far in July this year.

Mayur Sabhani, group director, laboratory services, VPS Healthcare, noted that mass testing strategy ensured early detection of cases and prevented community transmission.

“Massive screening drives help identify the positive cases and offer timely support to save lives. It will prevent community transmission by identifying the positive cases and isolating them. The UAE carried out the test, trace, isolate and treat strategy from the beginning of the pandemic, which ensured a fool proof system to identify and monitor the trends in real-time. Even if there are other ways to screen for Covid-19, the RT-PCR test remains the gold standard. The UAE has been a frontrunner in implementation and use of PCR tests.”

Asked why PCR test remains the gold standard, Sabhani said: “PCR test using a nasal swab is the best choice because it will have fewer false-negative results than other diagnostic tests. It helps to detect the infected people in a short time.”

Types of tests for detecting Covid-19 in the UAE: RT-PCR, antibody tests and laser-based DPI technology. Additionally, the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi has approved an antigen test, RT-LAMP test and saliva test.


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