Certain groups of people in the UAE are now eligible for free Covid-19 tests, according to a joint statement by the Ministry of Health and Prevention and the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority. The statement was released on Tuesday, after HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces issued directives for some social categories to get tested for Covid-19 for free, as part of the nationwide precautionary measures to curb the spread of the virus.
Under this new initiative starting next week, the charges for the test will be covered for all Emirati citizens and their domestic workers, people of determination, pregnant women, and residents over the age of 50 years — whether they show symptoms or not. Up until now, the test which costs AED 370 in the UAE, had been free only for those with Covid-19 symptoms and people in high-risk situations. Additionally, people who have been in contact with confirmed positive cases can also be tested free of charge. Health authorities are yet to announce the dates and timings of free-testing but the number of test centres in each of the seven emirates are sufficient to make sure that everyone has easy access to these tests.
There are a total of 14 drive-through test centres across the country where citizens and residents can get tested after making appointments. In Abu Dhabi, there are testing centres in Ghayathi, Madinat Zayed, Al Wathba, Zayed Sports City, Al Bahia, and Al Hili and Asharej in Al Ain. While in Dubai, there are drive-through test centres in Al Khawaneej, Port Rashid, Al Nasr Club, Dubai Festival City, Al Qusais, Silicon Oasis, Discovery Gardens, Al Warqa and International City.
The Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s directives form part of the UAE government’s and its leaders’ keenness to take all necessary measures to safeguard public health and flatten the curve. Although a number of movement restrictions have been relaxed, large-scale programmes such as the National Sterilization Programme and mass-testing are still underway to slow the spread of the virus through contact-tracing and isolation of confirmed cases.