Implementation of a drive-through testing clinic in Qatar for residents having recently returned from a country with a Covid-19 travel warning
Al Shaikh, Loua
Owen, Robert Campbell
INTRODUCTION: The spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has caused chaos around the world. At the onset of the virus' detection in the State of Qatar, a free-testing system was rapidly established to invite individuals who had recently returned from countries with a COVID-19 disease travel warning to avoid putting other people at risk. The testing site needed to be accessible to individuals without requiring them to enter the hospital and congregate in a waiting area. The aim of this article is to share our experience with the early implementation of a drive-through testing clinic using the invited person's vehicle as an isolation compartment during screening to minimize person-to-person contamination. METHODS: A Hamad Medical Corporation site was selected to stage a drive-through testing facility to avoid congestion and offer space to facilitate the process. A process was rapidly agreed upon, and staff received the required training regarding infection control measures and documentation. At the testing site, individuals were subjected to the following steps: registration and history taking, temperature measurement, swabbing, and receipt of a sick leave certificate and a flyer about self-quarantine. RESULTS: Over the first six days of implementation, the relevant authorities determined that 687 individuals had to be contacted, 103 attended their testing appointment in that period, and an additional 327 people (close relations of the individuals contacted or individuals contacted but without a health card) also subjected themselves to the testing process, which took a median time of 11 minutes 39 seconds. No individual exhibited symptoms that warranted immediate isolation while they were at the drive-through testing clinic. However, four individuals were diagnosed with COVID-19 following laboratory analysis of the swab taken and followed up. The median time between swab collection and laboratory testing was 13 hours 41 minutes 59 seconds. CONCLUSIONS: Collaboration among various key health, governmental, and travel industry partners was essential to the successful and rapid implementation of a COVID-19 drive-through testing clinic in the early days of the pandemic in Qatar. The general public reacted well to this process. Communication, coordination, and planning were identified as critical factors at every step of the process. It started from the initial call to the travelers who had recently returned from a country with a newly instituted travel warning and concluded by them leaving with their sick leave certificate and an information flyer with reminders about preventative infection control measures and encouraging them to self-quarantine after having been swabbed.