47 infected with Covid-19 after family gatherings in UAE


covid-19, coronavirus, ministry of health and prevention, infection

Dubai - Residents are urged to avoid family visits during Eid and use electronic means to wish each other.

By Sahim Salim

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Published: Tue 28 Jul 2020, 6:45 PM

A top UAE government official has warned against hosting gatherings, after recent meetings were found to have caused Covid-19 infection spread among multiple families. Dr Omar Al Hammadi, the official spokesperson for the UAE government, said 47 members of five families contracted the virus as they hosted gatherings.

Addressing a virtual Press briefing on Monday, the official said the 47 individuals were of different ages and got together with their extended families during weddings and other social occasions. They had failed to adhere to precautionary measures like mask use and physical distancing.

The official stressed the need to avoid gatherings during the four-day Eid Al Adha break that starts on Thursday. He also advised residents to avoid family visits during Eid and use electronic means to wish each other.

Abdul Rahman bin Mohammed Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, said adhering to preventive measures like social distancing and mask use are a "national duty". He called on residents to not lay to waste the efforts of frontliners in combatting the virus. "Do not forget that the frontliners will be spending the holidays away from their families so that we can stay safe."

Al Hammadi stressed the need to maintain a physical distance of not less than two metres "as health and wellness at the present time is directly proportional" to the distance. If an infected person coughs or sneezes, the risk of contracting the virus is higher for those in close proximity, he said.

Doctors had earlier explained to Khaleej Times about the risks associated with family gatherings. Dr Fawad Qasim, general practitioner at Right Health in Sonapur, Muhaisnah, said that by staying away from gatherings, everyone can help prevent a 'second wave' of infections.

"Though the cases have fallen, gatherings this Eid may lead to possible infections which can add to the burden of healthcare setups. Therefore, this Eid, we need to stay away from our loved ones so that we can be together for all the coming Eids," Dr Qasim said.

Kids and Covid-19

The UAE government spokesperson urged families to take good care of infants as they are "more likely" to develop complications if they contract Covid-19. This is because of their underdeveloped immunity.

He said the symptoms of the virus are the same among kids as they are among adults: High body temperatures, cough and shortness of breath.

Like adults, children, too, can be asymptomatic, the official warned. "Keep monitoring your children. If they are suspected of being infected, do not let them interact with anyone.

"When adults abide by precautionary measures, they encourage children to also follow good health practices," he added.

'Men more likely to get infected'

Citing figures and statistics around the world, Al Hammadi said men are more likely to get infected with Covid-19 than women. Men are also more likely to die from complications arising from the virus.

"Some evidence indicates that the female immune system is more resilient against Covid-19 than the male one because of genetic and hormonal factors," the official said. "There may be other contributing factors such as social behaviours like going to crowded places, restaurants, cafes, etc., which increase the chance of contracting Covid-19."

The fact that more men smoke also puts them at higher risk.

Smoking affects recovery

Al Hammadi explained that smoking harms the recovery process for Covid-19 patients. "It may even worsen their health, as Covid-19 is primarily a respiratory disease. If the lungs are damaged by smoking, their ability to recover is severely compromised."


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