Coronavirus in UAE: How to get your Covid-19 test done.


Among the countries with high infection counts are China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Iran, Japan, Singapore and Italy.

With the spike in Covid-19 cases globally, many hospitals, clinics and ERs in Dubai are seeing an increase in the number of worried people presenting doctors with blocked noses and sore throats – demanding that a coronavirus test be done. For peace of mind, they say.

But a senior official at the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) clarified that screenings are not done this way. Just because one has a cold or flu doesn’t mean he needs a Covid-19 test immediately.

In an exclusive interview to Khaleej Times, Dr Abdulla Al Rasasi, head of the preventive medicine section at the DHA’s public health protection department, said: “Patients should be suspected to have the infection only if they present upper or lower respiratory symptoms, with or without fever, and have travelled to one of the high-risk countries in the preceding 14 days; or have cared for or come into contact with an individual or animal known or strongly suspected to have Covid-19; or have severe acute respiratory infections with no other lab result that explains the illness.”

Among the countries with high infection counts are China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Iran, Japan, Singapore and Italy.

People have to understand that healthcare facilities cannot test everyone, he said.

“If we allow everyone coming from even low risk countries to take this test, we will exhaust our resources, which we do not want to do. We want to preserve our resources and use them for those who at higher risk at contracting this disease,”

However, if a person matches the Covid-19 conditions, then he must be taken to the nearest hospital or clinic, preferably with a mask on, if he exhibits symptoms.

Elaborating on the Covid-19 test, Dr Al Rasasi said: “The healthcare worker takes swab samples from the suspected patient’s nose, throat and sputum. After the swab test, the patient is kept in the isolation facility at the hospital until the result of the swab test is released, which roughly takes 24 hours.”

Infection control

In case the swab test results for Covid-19 turn out to be positive, Dr Al Rasasi said the DHA would send its special ambulance and healthcare officials to fetch the patient’s immediate family so they could be screened and tested as well.

“All the members of the patient’s immediate family will be tested for Covid-19. If they do not show symptoms, then they will be asked to go back home and stay in isolation for the next 14 days,” he said.

It is a must that the family of the infected person stays in two-week quarantine. “This is because, sometimes, even if one does contract the virus, it may take some time to show symptoms. If in those 14 days any of the family members develop symptoms, then the DHA will send an ambulance and transfer them to its facility, where they will be quarantined and symptoms of the disease will be treated,” he explained.

Covid-19 patients stay at quarantine facility, where their symptoms are treated since there is no direct medication or cure for the disease yet.

“This is done until the person tests negative for Covid-19, which takes roughly 2-3 weeks,” Dr Al Rasasi said.

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