Coronavirus news bulletin: UAE to train 1 million medics for free; ICA nod not needed for travel; new Covid testing facility in Dubai
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:
The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Wednesday reported 246 new cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, along with 232 recoveries. No new deaths were reported. More than 72,600 new Covid-19 tests have been carried out, the ministry said. In a statement, the ministry has once again affirmed its aim to continue expanding the scope of testing nationwide to facilitate the early detection of coronavirus cases and carry out the necessary treatment, and over 5.6 million tests have been carried out so far.
UAE project launched on Wednesday will train over one million healthcare professionals for free. Dubbed 'Waterfalls', the initiative aims to deliver "continuous education" to doctors, physicians, pharmacists, technicians and specialists in hospital management and humanitarian fields. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced the launch of the remote learning initiative that will be carried out by 140 experts and 67 academic and training institutes from around the world. Sheikh Mohammed said the initiative is part of the UAE's efforts to support the international medical fraternity. It will be supervised by Lt.-General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior.
The light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel is not a train hurtling down at us but a beam of pure hope that we are seeing the beginning of the end. With the UAE into Phase III trials and over 100 potential vaccines in various stages across the world, the announcement of a Russian option passing a regulatory barrier and now open to thousands of applicants has to be seen in a positive manner. The good does outweigh the bad, if, indeed, there is a bad. While it is far from becoming a state dictate at this moment there is no dearth of volunteers. It is more a decision that has to be made through one's own conscience and faith in medicine. There may be some naysayers not prepared to risk the vaccine for fear of after-effects in the long term and that is their prerogative. The havoc Covid-19 has created did call for speed and certain shortcuts were inevitable. In a few short months what normally takes a decade has been accomplished.
Residents with a valid UAE residency visa can come back to the country without a pre-travel approval from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA). The news has come as a relief for many residents, but some - especially those who have been stranded abroad for over six months due to Covid-19-triggered travel restrictions - are wondering if they are eligible to travel back. There is an easy-to-use website that lets travellers instantly verify if they fullfill the requirements to travel back to the country based on their UAE residency visa validity. On the website, https://uaeentry.ica.gov.ae, all you need to do is enter your passport number, Emirates ID number, nationality and passport type to get the instant verification.
UAE residents stuck for months in their home countries are excited at the prospect of returning to their second home after the local authorities announced on Wednesday that prior approval was no longer required to enter the UAE. The UAE announced that approval from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) was not required to enter the country but Covid-19 negative test result taken not more than 96 hours before is still needed to board a flight. Abu Dhabi resident Zulfikhar Abdul is grateful to the UAE Government for a timely decision as he risked losing his job. The 44-year-old, who is the sole bread-winner of a seven-member family, got stuck in his native town in the Indian state of Karnataka since March.
Mubadala Healthcare's National Reference Laboratory (NRL) has opened its second Covid-19 testing facility in Dubai. It has also introduced an advanced virus-detection system and adopted new technology for delivering test results in record time. Working closely with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), the NRL constructed the new Covid-19 laboratory at its Dubai facilities in under three weeks. Having passed its DHA inspection, the new lab is already accepting samples from hospitals and clinics across Dubai and the Northern Emirates, and has a scalable infrastructure to allow for capacity to be ramped up to meet demand. Abdul Hamid Oubeisi, chief executive officer of the NRL, said: "Our world-class Covid-19 laboratory in Abu Dhabi has already delivered more than 240,000 test results. Advanced equipment and a highly skilled scientific team are needed to process these results accurately within a quick time.
Coming to the rescue of families who lost their livelihood to Covid-19, a Dubai-based education technology academy is offering support to students who have had to drop out of school. For one academic year, they will have to pay only Dh83 per month. Coded Minds, an iSTEAM education technology firm, launched this nationwide initiative called 'Hope Academy' on Flag Day last year, aiming to make education accessible to all. However, in the wake of the pandemic, the academy ramped up efforts to help parents who couldn't send their kids to school. Omar Farooqui, founder of Coded Minds, said upon learning that some parents could not even afford to shell out Dh83 a month, they have decided to provide an "extremely flexible options". And for those who couldn't pay at all, the academy is extending provisions to cover the educational expenses of the child for up to a year.
Some schools in the UAE have slashed fees and extended discounts for the upcoming academic year, heeding the call of parents who are still reeling under the impact of the Covid-19 crisis. Discount structures vary from one school to another; but with distance learning options available, a few institutions have offered tuition reductions for students who will be attending classes from home. Some waived transport fees, while others rolled out rebates for all their enrollees. For Repton schools, financial support is provided to families who have been directly affected by the pandemic.
Abu Dhabi's iconic landmarks lit up with the slogan 'We Commit to Win' on Wednesday evening in another stirring gesture to show how determined the UAE is to prevail over the coronavirus. The 'We Commit to Win' campaign urges the public to have a social responsibility and adhere to precautionary measures to protect their safety and to gradually return to normal life.
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