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UAE’s fight against COVID-19: Over 1.5 million tests done!

The UAE has announced that it has already passed the 1.5 million mark in terms of the number of tests conducted since the beginning of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
According to Minister of Health and Prevention H.E. Abdul Rahman bin Mohammad bin Nasser Al Owais, the daily testing average in the UAE equals a four-month average of COVID-19 testing in other countries.
The country has indeed set the bar high in terms of massive screening. In fact, it currently ranks sixth on the global scale of performing COVID-19 tests. To date, the ratio of screening in the country stands at nearly 80,000 people per million.
The minister has also praised the UAE’s efforts to handle the repercussions and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The UAE has exerted exceptional efforts to absorb the implications of this pandemic and is now examining future opportunities to advance the healthcare system into the post COVID-19 period,” he said during the UAE government virtual meeting. “This would serve the aspirations on the need to keep pace with rapid and evolving changes; strengthen the UAE’s development model and achieve the strategic goals of post COVID-19 era by the UAE Centennial 2071.”
Early detection is key
Dr. Abdul Rahman bin Mohammad bin Nasser Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, expressed his admiration for the UAE leaders’ keenness on the importance of massive testing to lower the fatality rate of the disease, as well as planning ahead before patients reach critical stages.
He said that the detection of more cases in the country is expected as screenings for the disease are accelerated, noting that the public should not worry so much about the steady increase in the number of confirmed cases.
“We would like to reassure the public that this increase in the number of patients is expected and proves that we are on the right path to contain the spread of the virus.”
“The more tests we conduct, the earlier we detect more cases, and the more efficiently we can contain the virus. The more tests we perform, the more proactive we can handle those proven to be in contact with confirmed cases, as well as those who don’t exhibit any symptoms and yet carry the infection,” he added.
The minister also said that the large number of COVID-19 tests conducted nationwide was made possible due to the “tireless efforts made 24/7 by dedicated medical teams.”
“Even during the holy month of Ramadan, the working hours of our medical teams have not changed, and they are continuing their work with more determination to ensure public health and safety,” he said.
He has also expressed his high regard for the country’s frontline health workers in combatting the virus, as well as his gratitude for the public’s cooperation.
“On behalf of all our medical teams, we thank all members of the community, including citizens and residents, for their compliance with preventative and precautionary measures and their contributions to ongoing national efforts,” Al Owais said.

Innovative testing methods

According to the report by Emirates News Agency, the UAE has implemented a multi-pronged strategy to provide widespread testing for its citizens and residents to combat the spread of the disease.
Among its innovative methods—in addition to clinics and hospitals providing tests for COVID—include 14 advanced coronavirus drive-thru testing centers across the country, particularly in Dubai, Sharjah (also serving Ajman and Umm Al Quawain), Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Al Ain, and Al Dhafra.
The drive-thru testing centers can accommodate 600 to 1,000 people each daily, and the test only takes one minute per individual screened. Those who get tested will get their results within 48 hours.
Rapid laser test underway
Augmenting the UAE’s comprehensive COVID-19 testing is a new equipment aimed at empowering different sectors to conduct mass screenings with test results available in just a few seconds.
QuantLase Imaging Lab, the medical-research arm of the Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange-listed International Holdings Company, IHC has developed a breakthrough laser testing technology that promises to reinforce UAE’s position on conducting mass scale screenings and are not just fast, but accurate as well.
UAE’s Minister of Health and Prevention H.E. Abdul Rahman bin Mohammad bin Nasser Al Owais stated that the government is keen to support this technological development, citing that this will help aid and protect both citizens and residents better against the threat of COVID-19.
“We are always following innovations related to the early and rapid detection of COVID–19. The government is keen on supporting initiatives that help the healthcare system in the UAE. Health officials have been closely monitoring the progress of trials with QuantLase in order to test this equipment. We are proud to see a technology that works and that will help to protect our people better,” said Al Owais.
Explaining the critical role of artificial intelligence, AI, in the diagnostic system, Dr Pramod Kumar said that an advanced AI image-analysis model predicts the outcome of each image with precision, speed and scale. This is especially critical in large-scale testing programs, where a massive number of images needs to be analysed with accuracy and efficiency. The lab is using G42, a leading AI and Cloud Computing company, to further enhance the laser program.
Commenting on the invention, Nader Ahmed Al Hammadi, member of the Board of Directors at IHC: “IHC is proud to play a role in contributing to the robust efforts made by the UAE leadership in fighting the Covid-19 outbreak, especially with regards to testing and raising awareness.”
“With the first 1,000 tests, we refined our experiment and then applied it to the rest of the trials,” Dr Kumar said. “The process passed through several stages, and most recently was being trialled on a large scale, in line with current testing procedures.”
The lab hopes to be able to roll out the product in the market in a few months, Dr Kumar added. So far, the machine has produced results with high accuracy in optimal control setup, according to Dr Kumar. “As far as early stage detection is concerned, our DPI technique is capable to detect as soon as the blood cell gets infected. Our aim is to eventually reach the maximum level of accuracy.”

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