Explainer: How do Abu Dhabi’s new COVID-19 scanners work?

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As part of its measures to enhance coronavirus safety measures, Abu Dhabi has implemented a new COVID-19 screening method using advanced scanners to identify potential positive cases of the virus.

As of June 28, authorities in the capital of the United Arab Emirates implemented the use of EDE COVID-19 scanners at shopping malls, some residential areas, and all land and air entry points in the emirate.

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The new scanning system was developed by EDE Research Institute Abu Dhabi, part of the International Holding Company (IHC), and implemented by the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee, who said in a statement that the new state-of-the-art equipment would add to existing precautionary measures and is part of efforts to “further enhance the protection of public health and safety by using the most advanced technology.”

It said earlier that it expanded the roll-out of EDE scanners following a successful pilot phase and approval by the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH). The DoH said the EDE scanners were effective and viable detectors of the COVID-19 virus.

How do they work?

The EDE scanning technology can detect a possible COVID-19 infection by measuring electromagnetic waves, which change when the RNA particles of the virus are present in a person’s body, therefore providing an immediate result.

The system includes an EDE detector that collects electromagnetic waves within a 5-meter radius. When a person enters that radius, the electromagnetic waves are altered.

The scanners are operated at a distance and are effective for mass screening, such as at the entry to public locations.

What happens if scanners detect a potential case?

A machine learning algorithm compares the information against the unique COVID-19 RNA molecule.

If the scanner identifies a person as not infected, they are permitted to enter. If the scanner identifies a person as potentially infected, they must conduct a PCR test within 24 hours. All PCR tests related to red results are free.

Are the scanners proving successful?

On Wednesday, health sector spokesperson Dr Farida al-Hosani said the EDE scanning technology has been effective in detecting COVID-19 infections, achieving 93.5 per cent in sensitivity and 83 per cent in accuracy.

“The EDE scanning system monitors the possibility of a person’s being infected with the virus by measuring electromagnetic waves that change with the presence of RNA in a person’s body,” said Dr al-Hosani.

She also said more than 20,000 people have undergone the test through the EDE scanning technology.

“With more than 20,000 people tested, the results showed a high degree of effectiveness in detecting COVID-19 infections,” she said.

Are the scanners being used in conjunction with other testing?

Yes, the EDE scanners will be used alongside other approved testing methods, such as PCR (Polymerase Chain reaction) and DPI (Diffractive Phase Interferometry).

Dr Jamal Mohammed al-Kaabi, Undersecretary at Department of Health - Abu Dhabi, said: “Abu Dhabi has adopted an integrated strategy to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, based on increased testing to ensure safe entry into the emirate, vaccination and the continued implementation of preventive measures.

“The use of the EDE scanning system is part of this strategy and reflects the leadership’s vision in harnessing modern technology to create solutions that turn challenges into opportunities. We are pleased to add EDE scanning technology made in Abu Dhabi to the preventive measures, helping to create safer areas and maintain public health.”

Emirati security forces man a checkpoint at the entrance of Abu Dhabi, on June 2, 2020, after authorities cordoned off the emirate to rein in the coronavirus. (AFP)
Emirati security forces man a checkpoint at the entrance of Abu Dhabi, on June 2, 2020, after authorities cordoned off the emirate to rein in the coronavirus. (AFP)

What other Abu Dhabi COVID-19 rules are in place?

According to an announcement made by the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee on Monday, Abu Dhabi will only allow those vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter some public areas, including malls, restaurants and gyms, starting August 20.

The committee said it took the decision on Monday after vaccinating 93 percent of target groups in the emirate and to preserve public health.

The first phase of the decision also includes gyms, recreational facilities and sporting activities, health clubs, resorts, museums, cultural centers and theme parks, as well as universities, institutes, public and private schools and children nurseries in the emirate.

What is the latest on the UAE’s vaccination drive?

The UAE has already administered more than 15.5 million doses since the launch of the country’s vaccination drive in December 2020, officially surpassing Seychelles as the world’s most vaccinated nation.

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The country’s vaccination rate currently sits at over 64.1 percent, NCEMA reported late Monday.

Read more:

UAE’s Abu Dhabi updates COVID-19 travel procedures

Abu Dhabi to allow only COVID-19 vaccinated people entry to some public areas

Abu Dhabi authorizes use of EDE scanners to detect COVID-19 infections

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