DUBAI: A picture shows a deserted street in the Emirate city of Dubai amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. – AFP

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates said it has launched a drive-through coronavirus testing facility as part of the Gulf state’s efforts to fight the disease. The facility, inaugurated by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, will provide screenings within five minutes, using state-of-the-art equipment and a medical team, the Abu Dhabi government’s media office said.

“A new drive-through testing facility for COVID-19 has launched … to offer safe testing procedures,” the office said Saturday on Twitter. According to official state news agency WAM, the facility can serve 600 people a day, with priority given to senior citizens, pregnant women and those with chronic illnesses. The media office said people should book an appointment in advance. Tests “for the wider community for reassurance only” would cost 370 dirhams ($100), according to government advice on Twitter.

The UAE, which on Sunday had 570 officially declared COVID-19 cases, including three deaths, has imposed restrictions on night movements and taken steps to sanitize outdoor areas and public transport. The Gulf state has halted passenger flights, closed its borders to foreigners and asked people to go outdoors only if necessary. UAE Attorney General Hamad Saif Al-Shamsi has issued a list of fines ranging from $272 to $13,600 for those violating regulations imposed to contain the virus.

Dubai balcony marathon
In another development, a South African couple are to run a marathon on their Dubai balcony to be streamed online as an example of how to beat the coronavirus blues under lockdown. Collin Allin, 41, and wife Hilda aim to cover the 42.2-kilometre (26-mile) distance on their 19-metre (yard) long balcony from 6:00 am on Saturday, a challenge they expect to take between seven and eight hours. “This is about giving people something else to think about,” he told AFP. “It’s about getting people to connect, as everyone is worried about the impact of coronavirus.”

Their 10-year-old daughter Geena will be in charge of providing her parents with water and snacks as well as music to drive the runners. The United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a member, has imposed a Thursday to Sunday nightime lockdown to allow for outdoors and public transport sanitation operations. With more than 330 declared cases of the novel coronavirus and two deaths, it has also been promoting a “stay home” campaign, a message lit up on top of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower.- Agencies