Abu Dhabi: Testing to find asymptomatic carriers is key to the Covid-19 fight
One of the reasons why Covid-19 has been so difficult to stamp out is the fact that it can be completely invisible
Much has been said about the dangers of the coronavirus, and the signs of the illness it causes. A persistent cough, high fever, difficulty breathing and sometimes a loss of taste or smell are among the most widespread symptoms of the disease.
One of the reasons why Covid-19 has been so difficult to stamp out, however, lies in the fact that it can also be completely invisible. According to data provided by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 25 per cent of all coronavirus patients are totally asymptomatic. These individuals are carriers of the disease that do not have any symptoms at all, increasing their risk of infecting others unknowingly.
This is particularly dangerous for those living in close quarters with family or roommates, who have little means of quarantining separately, or may not be taking precautions on the false assumption that a lack of symptoms equates with good health.
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In order to actively address this issue, authorities in Abu Dhabi have expanded a free testing initiative across the emirate for people living in high density areas and tower blocks, to spot out asymptomatic patients and protect those around them. Seha, Abu Dhabi's public hospital operator, is spearheading the initiative and has already deployed teams on the ground. This is yet another addition to Seha’s fundamental work in tackling the pandemic, from treating thousands of patients to setting up immense field hospitals in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
This is not the first targeted testing campaign conducted in the emirate. The hunt for asymptomatic carriers is Abu Dhabi’s latest measures to stay ahead of the curve and halt the virus in its tracks. In the past, industrial zones and residential areas housing low-income workers such as Abu Dhabi’s Mussafah have been the focus of mass testing. There is a broad commitment to mass testing in the country, a strategy that has been recognised as a pillar of the fight against the coronavirus by the World Health Organisation. The more tests are carried out, the more likely it is that individuals who have contracted the virus will be spotted out for treatment, and others spared from infection. More than 2 million tests have been conducted since the onset of the outbreak in the country, making the UAE the country that has carried out the most Covid-19 tests per capita in the world.
And now there is a vital initiative aimed specifically at identifying and isolating silent carriers of the coronavirus. Medical teams are now preparing the best ways to survey highly populated housing areas of the emirate, providing free tests for all. This is another instance of Abu Dhabi leading efforts in curbing the virus.
The more tests are carried out, the more likely it is that those who have contracted the virus will be spotted out for treatment, and others spared from infection
This measure comes at a time of deep change in the way that countries are managing their coronavirus responses. Many nations have started to open up their economies, although new rules and restrictions have also been imposed on the public. Greece has opened up its tourism sector for a wide range of countries, while Norway is getting ready to allow children back to school. The number of infections, however, has yet to significantly drop worldwide. There are now more than 6 million coronavirus cases globally, nearly two-thirds of them in North America and Europe. Widespread testing, and identifying silent carriers early on, could prove to be a decisive step toward building public confidence, and minimising any unnecessary risks while countries open up their economies.
Updated: June 1, 2020 09:38 AM