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Abu Dhabi introduces Covid-19 saliva test to more schools across the emirate

Abu Dhabi introduces Covid-19 saliva test to more schools across the emirate

The second phase was launched across 25 schools in December

Phase two of saliva testing for students across schools in Abu Dhabi is underway to contain the spread of the coronavirus infection.

The steps were taken as part of the Department of Health and Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre (ADPHC)’s commitment to develop rapid testing methods that will replace the nasal swab tests that may be uncomfortable for young school students and their families.

The second phase has been launched across 25 schools in December with more than 2,000 students examined so far. This phase will continue to collect samples from students in private and charter schools across the capital emirate and in coordination with the Department of Education and Knowledge.

The ADPHC in cooperation with the Department of Education and Knowledge and Biogenix Labs, a company of G42 Healthcare, completed phase one of saliva tests in October. Tests for were conducted in the Al Rabeeh School in Abu Dhabi for students between 4 and 12 years of age. The saliva Polymerase-chain-reaction (SPCR) test has a high degree of accuracy and involves fewer steps, with saliva being collected in a sterile container that does not require special preservatives, temperature controls, or additional containers.

Dr. Omniyat Al-Hajri, director of the Community Health Department – Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre, said: “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. Our experience has shown that saliva collection is easier and more comfortable than the nasal swab for the age group between 4 and 12 years old, and the new method has been greatly welcomed by both students and parents as well as by the teaching staff who participated in supervising the students during the testing at school.”

“The health and safety of the school community in Abu Dhabi remains our top priority, and in line with our efforts to continue maintaining a healthy environment in private and charter schools in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, we were keen to conduct periodic Covid-19 checks for all school personnel as of the beginning of the academic year, while requiring all students over the age of 12 to submit a negative test result before returning to school,” noted Dr. Tariq Al Ameri, director of the licensing and education compliance department at the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge.

“We cooperated with the Department of Health and the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre to support the initial launch of a saliva test for Covid-19, as an alternative to the nasal swab test that may be difficult to perform for younger students. Parents of students under the age of 12 can now choose for their children to take the saliva test instead of having a nasal swab when they need to conduct a Covid-19 examination as part of the health screening procedures in the designated areas at the schools,” he added.

Ashish Koshy, G42 Healthcare, CEO, said: “We are very pleased to have the support from the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre and the Department of Education and Knowledge to provide this innovative testing service for schools in Abu Dhabi. The saliva PCR test is considered child-friendly as it does not cause any discomfort. The test is very convenient and is faster than the nasopharyngeal polymerase-chain-reaction test, which makes it a good alternative to other tests.”

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