GCC nations lead in COVID-19 testing

The COVID-19 testing rate in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations, especially the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Baharin, is among the highest in the world.

In fact, both the UAE and Bahrain, are much ahead in carrying out tests per million (10 lakh) population with both countries hitting over 50% testing rate for SARS-COV-2.

The UAE has already done over 66 lakh tests covering around 7,00,000 per million of its inhabitants while Bahrain covered over six lakh per million of its citizens.

An average of 80% of patients recovered in GCC nations – the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. All the six nations had a daunting task to contain the spread of the disease when the COVID-19 outbreak was surging from May.

Stringent norms

Stringent rules such as border closures, curfews and lockdowns had helped combat the virus. Only Bahrain and Qatar opted for a lenient approach without imposing curfews. The UAE took the initiative of mandatory testing of residents in housing colonies and and crowded migrant labour camps and then isolating the positive cases.

Qatar, another wealthy Gulf nation, has conducted over 2 lakh tests per million population. Its total tests crossed six lakh.

In Saudi Arabia, the total COVID-19 tests is also inching towards the 50 lakh mark. The kingdom is conducting 1.5 lakh tests per million population. The city of Makkah continues to top the list of cities reporting new infections on a daily basis. Jazan, Jeddah and Riyadh are other cities that are also recording more cases.

The tiny oil rich country of Kuwait, is conducting fewer tests than other GCC nations. Its rate stands below 20,000 per million population. So far it has conducted over six lakh tests. However, the recovery rate is above 90 % even as the nation recorded over 500 deaths.

In the case of the Sultanate of Oman, the country has ramped up testing in recent times. Its test rate is over 60,000 per million population and the recovery rate is over 93%. Previously it was lagging behind other GCC nations in conducting tests.

Meanwhile, the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship in the UAE has asked visa holders, whose visa expired after March, 1, to exit the country without paying fines. The deadline is September 11. At the same time it has announced that expired residence visa holders would have to leave UAE by November 17 without paying a fine and a ban on their re-entry.

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