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Coronavirus news bulletin: UAE adopts new government structure; 683 new Covid-19 cases reported; school re-opening protocols issued

ismail@khaleejtimes.com Filed on July 6, 2020
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A round-up of major developments related to Covid-19 across the country.

Here's a round-up of all the latest Covid-19 developments you need to know:

Sweeping govt changes to give UAE the edge in post-Covid era

Ministries and government departments were merged and new portfolios created as sweeping changes were announced to the UAE Cabinet on Sunday by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The new Cabinet has 33 members, including Sheikh Mohammed. Sheikh Mohammed also said that 50 per cent of all government service centres that serve the public will be closed in the next two years and their services transformed into digital portals. Announcing the new government structure on Twitter, Sheikh Mohammed said the move is essential for proactive decision making and to prepare the country for a post-Covid-19 future. The new structure reflects "a flexible and fast government whose goal is to consolidate the achievements and gains of the country", said Sheikh Mohammed.

UAE reports 683 new Covid-19 cases, 440 recoveries, 2 deaths

The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Sunday reported 683 new cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, along with 440 new recoveries. Two new deaths were also reported. More than 47,000 Covid-19 tests have been carried out in the country, the ministry added. With rigorous and mass testing, the UAE has carried out more than 3.6 million Covid-19 tests in record time and is leading the way in global rankings for coronavirus screening. To further improve testing, early detection and timely treatment, it was announced yesterday that residents of Sharjah's Al Nahda will be tested for Covid-19 for free from July 5. Residents of the area received an alert on their phones about the screening drive on Saturday. The testing will be carried out at a mobile screening centre set up in Al Nahda Park from 10am to 6pm. Initially, those aged 18 and above will be screened.

Dubai Airports all set to welcome tourists from July 7

Dubai Airports has implemented strict precautionary health measures as the emirate prepares to welcome tourists from July 7. Photos and videos tweeted by the Government of Dubai Media Office on Sunday show what socially distanced travelling looks like. Travellers can be seen maintaining a safe distance from one another as they wait to clear immigration and other travel formalities.

Masks must when Dubai students return to school in Sept

Students aged six and above will need to wear a mask when they return to Dubai schools in the new academic year, it was announced on Sunday. Students and staff with medical conditions are exempted from wearing it provided they submit a medical certificate. Masks can be taken off while eating or during high-intensity physical activities. This came as Dubai's education regulator Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) released a set of guidelines for schools to follow when they reopen. The 118-point circular will help curb the spread of Covid-19 when students return to campus in September. Students in classrooms should be seated at least 1.5 metres apart and all of them should wear masks. Showers, changing rooms and swimming pools will remain closed for now. "Student ratios will vary depending on the size of the classroom.

Sharjah's free Covid-19 test to cover all residential areas

Sharjah will be extending its free Covid-19 screening to all residential areas in the emirate, authorities said on Sunday. The screening programme - organised by the Ministry of Health and Prevention in coordination with the Sharjah Police - started in Al Nahda on Sunday, with residents lining up for the test as early as 9am. Carried out at a mobile screening centre set up in Al Nahda Park, tests were conducted from 10am to 6pm. Major Abdul Rahman Bu Ghanem, director of support mission department at Sharjah Police, confirmed that a plan is now being put together to implement this free screening campaign in all neighbourhoods of the emirate. For each residential area, the process will be done for 10 days, testing 200 people per day. Two days before the schedule, residents will receive a message from the police, explaining where and when they can go to get screened for free. They will have to present an Emirates ID and the text message on the day of the test.

How foreign tourists in Dubai can avoid quarantine

Tourists with Covid-negative certificates can enter Dubai and explore the city without having to undergo a quarantine or isolation period, Dubai-based airlines have confirmed to Khaleej Times. The certificate ought to have been issued up to 96 hours prior to the travel. Those without a Covid-negative certificate, however, will need to undergo a PCR test on arrival at the Dubai airports and self-isolate until they receive their negative results. Dubai will start welcoming holiday-makers from July 7. "If passengers opt to take the PCR test on arrival in Dubai, they must self-isolate until test results are received. If the test result is negative, passengers can leave the hotel and enjoy the trip as normal. However, if the test result is positive, passengers are asked to follow the advice of the Dubai Health Authority and self-isolate," Emirates said in a statement.

Cabinet revamp proves UAE resiliency after Covid-19: FNC members

Members of the Federal National Council (FNC) said the changes in government come at the right time - when the country is restructuring plans for a post-Covid era. Dhirar Belhoul Al Falasi, an FNC member from Dubai, said: "These are important changes made by the UAE government as we need to think ahead of the pandemic. There is a need for good plans and strategies on how to bring back the economy. And the faster we react, the quicker we shall get back on track." "The Covid-19 pandemic was a shock to all nations and the UAE coming out so quickly with new structures to address the aftermath of the crisis before others is an indication that we shall recuperate faster than other nations." Another FNC member, Sara Mohammad Amin Falaknaz, agreed that the new structure "embodies the right vision to deal with a post-Covid stage". "The changes made clearly demonstrate the leaders' flexibility in adopting new strategies to keep pace with the happenings globally," said Falaknaz.

'Several' Sharjah jet ski firms fined for violating anti-Covid measures

Several jet ski rental companies in Sharjah that failed to adhere to Covid-19 precautionary measures have been fined Dh1,000, a top official has said. Khalid bin Falah Al Suwaidi, assistant director-general of customer service, Sharjah Municipality, said many other firms have been warned. "Violators were slapped with a fine of Dh1,000. The inspections will continue and the fines will be doubled if the offence is repeated," he said. This came as the civic body announced a crackdown on firms that fail to adhere to precautionary measures like operating at 50 per cent capacity and constant sterilisation of jet-skis. "Al Mamzar witnesses a high public turnout, especially for water sports, during summer. The intensified crackdown was launched by the municipality to ensure implementation of health and safety measures. The new health and precautionary measures include the obligation to sterilise water bikes after each use and wear masks and gloves," said Al Suwaidi.

Dubai shuts one outlet, fines 2 others for violating Covid-19 guidelines

Dubai Economy on Sunday said it closed one outlet and issued a warning to two others for not adhering to Covid-19 safety and precautionary guidelines last week. The authority inspected almost 4,200 commercial businesses in order to ensure the safety of employees and customers alike. "The market continues to maintain the highest levels of compliance with the guidelines set to limit the spread of Covid-19 with 4,195 businesses fully compliant, 1 closure, 2 warnings and zero fines," it said in a tweet summarising its inspections. The authority had expedited inspections of commercial businesses in the emirate, following the outbreak of the pandemic in the UAE in late January. The inspections began in the morning when markets opened and lasted till they closed.

Dancing not allowed as solo performers make a comeback in Dubai

Hotels and restaurants in Dubai can host solo musicians for performances, but bands are not allowed at this stage, a circular released by Dubai Tourism states. The circular dated July 2 specifies guidelines for live performers like musicians and DJs. There should be a two-metre distance between performance areas and audiences - including seated/standing areas. Crowding, including spectators dancing, is strictly prohibited. Viewers must not be allowed to queue up outside the venue or in the waiting area. "Single entertainer/performer to perform on a dedicated stage only ... No physical interaction is permitted with audiences," the circular reads. The entertainers are also required to wear a mask at all times as a precautionary measure against the spread of Covid-19. The circular specifies that live entertainment can be hosted at indoor and outdoor restaurants, pools and common areas within hotel establishments. Bars and night clubs will remain closed.

Dubai Financial Market to reopen trading floor

The Dubai Financial Market (DFM) will reopen its trading floor and customer affairs counters for investors from Tuesday, July 7, 2020, but under strict coronavirus precautionary and safety measures. Since trading floor and customer affair counters have been closed since mid-March in order to contain the pandemic, the bourse remained functional and investors continued buying and selling shares online through digital platforms. All DFM employees had returned to office starting June 14. The Dubai bourse on Sunday closed flat at 2,062 points, up by 0.59 points or 0.02 per cent. "Following the UAE's remarkable success in containing the pandemic, we are reopening the trading floor and customer affairs counters under strict precautionary measures to protect public health and safety of clients and employees alike," said Hassan Al Serkal, chief operating officer and head of operations division of DFM.

RAK courts process 90 one-day cases in June

A total of 90 one-day civil and commercial cases were processed by the RAK Courts remotely in June. Dr Ahmad Al Khatri, chairman of the RAK Courts, said this denotes a 37 per cent rise, compared to the same month last year where 57 cases were heard. "The rise in the one-day cases reflects the court's competence in swiftly handling the cases. The rulings are final and enforceable." The remote judicial system, initiated amid Covid-19 pandemic, has proved efficient, he added. "The one-day cases heard remotely in June include 60 commercial and 30 civil lawsuits." Earlier in June, the RAK Courts also activated digital marriage contracts issued remotely and attested in 15 minutes. Dr Khatri said the contracts processed remotely for couples of different nationalities in line with the preventive measures to curb Covid-19."Digital marriage contract is one of the RAK courts 279 online services being provided these days."

author

Ismail Sebugwaawo

A professional journalist originating from Kampala, Uganda, Ismail is a happy father with strong attachment to family and great values for humanity. He has practiced journalism in UAE for the past 13 years, covering the country's parliament (FNC) and crimes, including Abu Dhabi Police, public prosecution and courts. He also reports about important issues in education, public health and the environment, with a keen interest in human interest stories. When out of reporting duties, he serves the Ugandan community in Abu Dhabi as he wants to see his countrymen happy. Exercising and reading are part of his free time.


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