Combating coronavirus: Will UAE sterilisation programme be extended?
Dr Amer Al Sharif, head of the Covid-19 Command and Control Centre, answers key questions.
A decision to extend the National Sterilisation Programme will be made on the scientific results provided by the Supreme Committee for Crisis and Disaster Management.
"A decision in this regard will be based made on clear indicators and scientific results provided by the authority," said Dr Amer Al Sharif, head of the Covid-19 Command and Control Centre and the vice-chancellor of the Mohammed bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU).
Here are some other Q&A from his virtual press address on Thursday.
Q. What efforts are being undertaken in workers' camps?
A. There is intensive work going on in labour camps by having mobile teams and special clinics make field screenings to identify the infected people and quarantine them. The screening is the major step to prevent the spread of Covid-19. We are working now to expand the tests on people returning to the country or people who were in direct contact with infected people as well as people with chronic diseases.
Q. What are the tasks of the Covid-19 Command and Control Centre?
A. The Command and Control centre has been established by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and it has been based on a scientific principle. The strategy is to curb the spread of Covid-19 by social distancing and intensifying the number of tests taken in Dubai. We are also coordinating between the private and public sector, and the entities behind the success of this centre are the robust healthcare system in Dubai.
Q. What measures are being undertaken to combat this pandemic?
A. We are deploying all efforts to combat this pandemic and there is clear coordination between the public and private sectors.
Q. Is it true that with extensive testing, the number of cases will increase?
A. We have a lot of data and research on this matter, and we are conducting more tests to limit the increasing the number of cases. In addition to those, testing on people with chronic illnesses would ascertain the need for quick intervention. We have a clear plan and strategy to increase the number of tests being done.
Q. Was the national sterilisation programme a success and will it be extended?
A. The programme is considered a precautionary and protective measure that was undertaken by the wise leadership of the UAE. It was extended to be 24x7 based on the indicators provided by the Dubai Supreme Committee for Crisis and Disaster Management. A decision can be made based on the results given by them.
Q. What is the scientific research that has been done by Dubai?
A. Scientific research is a critical resource for the centre's strategies and actions against this virus. We are fortunate to have academic institutions that can join other sectors in Dubai in the fight against Covid-19.
Genome sequencing has increasingly become an important tool for studying disease outbreaks. The genome of the virus causing COVID-19 (known as SARS-CoV-2) consists of 30,000 genetic bases or letters.
As a virus spreads and continues to reproduce, small changes in its genetic material take place. Recent studies on the virus causing COVID-19 show that these genetic changes, known as mutations, occur every two weeks on average. By studying the genetic sequence of the virus and the minor changes over time from many patients, scientists can get a better understanding of how the virus spreads which can also inform measures to control the outbreak. This has put UAE on international scientific research map.
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