First private 24-hour PCR drive-through testing centre opens in Sharjah

Posted on 20-01-2022

A private hospital has opened the first round-the-clock PCR drive-through testing centre in Sharjah.

NMC Royal Hospital Sharjah said the new centre aims to serve people in the Northern Emirates.

It opened to the public on January 12 and is already testing about 10,000 people every day. The hospital said about 300 cars come to the centre every night.

The centre charges Dh100 for a test and it can handle 20,000 people daily.

“The drive-through option is the safest mode to do a Covid PCR test, as you are in the safe confines of your car along with family members,” said Dr Mohammed Shabbir, head of emergency medicine at NMC Royal Hospital, Sharjah.

“By interacting less with outsiders, you are reducing the risk of contracting other respiratory infections like influenza or other bacterial infections.

“In a drive-through centre, the chances of a new infection are much lower.”

Demand for tests has surged in the new year after Abu Dhabi introduced stricter entry rules and schools opened for the second term.

To achieve the green status on the Al Hosn app, people in the UAE are now required to be fully vaccinated, with a booster shot, or have a negative PCR test result obtained within the previous 96 hours.

As the Omicron strain widely circulates, infections around the world have soared, and with it, the demand for PCR tests.

On January 18, the UAE recorded 2,792 new cases of Covid-19, compared with just 551 on December 19.

That has resulted in huge demand for testing, with the private sector filling the gap left behind by overrun government centres.

NMC Royal Hospital opened the new drive-through centre after it opened a day testing centre on December 17. Both centres are at the hospital premises.

This month, Abu Dhabi's Seha permanently closed its Covid-19 drive-through testing centre in Mina Rashid, Dubai.

Demand for government PCR testing was particularly high, as tests were capped at just Dh50, compared to the Dh150 average price offered privately in Dubai.

NMC’s Bareen International Hospital in Abu Dhabi opened in March 2021 and has bolstered its RT PCR drive-through centre to accommodate 4,000 cars per day.

The hospital has already reached 80 per cent of its 10,000 samples per day capacity taking into account the drive-through and walk-in samples taken in the clinic.

Medics said results were usually available within 24 hours, despite the rise in demand, while the in-car wait time before testing was about 15 minutes, on average.

“With the new protocols set by the Abu Dhabi government, we have seen an increase in demand for Covid-19 RT-PCR tests,” said Dr Ramzi Alshaiba, medical director at Bareen International Hospital in Mohamed Bin Zayed City.

“Testing has always been an important pillar to curb the spread of the Sars-CoV-2 virus and a PCR test has been the gold standard.

“We are committed to helping protect the health and safety of the community, most especially at this time.”