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Coronavirus: Abu Dhabi rolls out saliva COVID-19 testing in more schools

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The Government of Abu Dhabi has rolled out saliva COVID-19 testing for children, with plans to introduce it in a second phase to schools across the emirate of Abu Dhabi, the official WAM news agency reported on Monday.

The UAE’s Department of Health and Abu Dhabi’s Public Health Center’s worked together to find a more child-friendly solution for COVID-19 testing.

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The saliva Polymerase-Chain-Reaction (SPCR) test is a reliable test that is accurate and able to produce results very quickly, ranging from six to twelve hours from the time of sample collection.

The collaboration between the Department of Education and Knowledge, Biogenix Labs and the Abu Dhabi Public Health Center, ensured that phase one of the saliva tests were completed in October 2020.

The first phase of the SPCR tests was conducted in a number of schools across the UAE's capital for students between the ages of four and twelve. A total of 447 saliva samples were collected during this phase and the results of the collection were verified for accuracy, according WAM.

In December 2020, phase two was launched across 25 schools. As of yet, over 2,000 students have been examined.

Authorities plan to continue the collection of samples from students in private and charter schools as per the epidemiological needs of the investigation, based on the health authority and the Department of Education and Knowledge’s recommendations.

“In line with the continued efforts of the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre and the Department of Health to research and apply the latest scientific developments with regard to COVID-19 examinations and responding to the pandemic, and in the interest of providing easy, comfortable and reliable services, we have been using a new method for collecting testing samples since the beginning of October, which is done through saliva collection instead of a nasal swab,” Dr. Omniyat al-Hajiri, Director of the Community Health Department, Abu Dhabi Public Health Center, was quoted as saying.

Al-Hajiri added that her experience has shown that saliva collection was a much easier and more comfortable method of testing for this age group, compared to the nasal swab.

Biogenix Labs is well-prepared for the second phase of testing operations, with the capacity to test and process 30,000 SPCR tests per day.

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