SEHA nurse Leah Gulbe applies the nose swab to a COVID19 test registrant at the Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club in Sunday afternoon. Kamal Kassim/Gulf Today
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
Twelve new Coronavirus 2019 drive-thru screening centers formally opened to the public across the seven emirates on Sunday morning to complement the services of several others in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
The centers with three in the capital, two each in Al Ain and Dubai, and one each in Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah are being managed and operated by the Abu Dhabi Health Services Co. Inc. (SEHA)-Ambulatory Health Services, under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE.
“His Highness Sheikh Mohammed wants that there would be SEHA testing centers in all the emirates. These will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday. Locals and expatriates may ask for appointment over 8001717,” SEHA-Ambulatory Patient Access officer Ahmed Ali Al Neyadi told newsmen.
Al Neyadi along with a multi-racial medical/healthworkers team are assigned at the Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club where a spacious three-lane tent was constructed at one section of the huge parking lot. Security is provided for by the Sharjah Police and an “emergency” vehicle is on stand-by. All centers are aiming for 500 screenings a day.
The five-minute drive-thru test is free to the chronically ill, pregnant women and the elderly. Others have to pay online Dhs370.00 once an appointment has been arranged over 8001717.
“The specimens will be delivered to laboratories every day in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah when we have completed everything after 6 p.m.” said nurse Leah Gulbe, among those tasked to nose swab.
The results-whether positive or negative-would either be texted to the registrants-or they could also check on the SEHA app within five days.
The team is composed of doctors, nurses, dental assistants and phlebotomists.
“We are all excited. This is something new. Personally, I am proud that we have these here in the UAE,” Gulbe continued.
The Filipina is neither scared nor nervous, adding there is ample supply of logistics and personal protective equipment.
She said: “We throw away gloves after each patient. We are notified by our colleagues at the registration stalls if there were symptomatic people. We change our PPE immediately in such cases.”
Interviewed was a public servant in Sharjah: “I am scared. But I deal with people any time of the day. I have family. I am also thinking of my friends. So I am here. I learned about this four days back.”
Irshad Choroniyil from Ajman accompanied his pregnant wife Aysha after they were given an appointment a few days back when someone had WhatsApped: “We were instructed to come here when I called up 8001717. We took the chance as the service is free for the pregnant. I had mine in the company I work for.”
Meanwhile, the National Screening Centre for the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) located at the Golf and Shooting Club in Sharjah has started receiving visitors with a capacity of 500 people per day, said Ahmed Ali Al Niyadi, director of the Centre. The Centre has started operations with four path to ensure smooth entry and exit of vehicles to subject the test that take a few minutes, Al Neyadi added.
He said, “The registration process and completion of the screening takes 5 minutes from the entry to the Centre. It starts by the registering with the Emirates ID card in the reader, and then followed by taking a nasal swab from the nose.”
“The examinees receive the results via an SMS in 3 - 5 days from the date of screening,” he added, noting that individuals who need to subject the screening should book an appointment for the screening by contacting the toll free (8001717) or through “SEHA” smart application.
For her part, Kholoud Abdullah Mohamed, responsible for volunteers at the National Screening Centre from Vehicle in Sharjah, stated that the number of volunteers at the center is 17 from different age groups and nationalities. They meet daily before the start of work to coordinate work mechanisms and distribute roles, she added, stressing that they come to serve the examinees, motivated by responsibility towards their country and society.
In an unprecedented cultural initiative in the history of Arabic culture, the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) will hold the Sharjah Virtual Reading Festival (SVRF) for 10 days, running from May 27 to June 5, 2020.
The Centre has postponed the 48th edition of the Watch & Jewellery Middle East Show (WJMES), which was scheduled to take place from 25 – 29 March to be merged with the 49th edition in late September 2020.
The Sharjah Art Foundation will be reopening some of its venues from 26 June 2020, according to a statement issued by the Foundation.
During his visit, Sheikh Khalid was briefed by Salem Al Noaimi, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Health Services Company, SEHA, on the contribution of the drive-through testing facilities in the nation’s response to the global pandemic.
Hundreds of soldiers were called for duty and heavy machinery deployed in Vietnam on Thursday to search for survivors after landslides caused by torrential rain from Typhoon Molave, which whiplashed the country.
Some students sympathetic to Thai protesters said on Friday they were boycotting graduation ceremonies led by King Maha Vajiralongkorn in a show of anger at the monarchy amid growing calls to reform it.
The police have asked parents to pay attention to their children when they approach windows and balconies.