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Coronavirus Pandemic

Coronavirus bulletin from UAE: Over a million tests conducted; 532 new cases announced; public transport resumes; Deira Gold Souk reopens Filed on April 26, 2020
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(Photo by Juidin Bernarrd/ KT)

A round-up of major developments related to Covid-19 across the country.

Here's a round-up of all the latest developments you need to be aware of:

UAE conducts over a million Covid-19 tests

The UAE has conducted more than a million Covid-19 tests, the Ministry of Heath and Prevention said on Saturday. "We continue to increase Covid-19 tests to identify cases as early as possible, with more than 14 testing centres around the UAE, including drive-through testing facilities and home testing for people of determination," said Dr Abdul Rahman Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention. Besides healthcare frontliners, the Emirati scientific community has also been stepping up to the plate in the war on Covid-19.

UAE announces 532 new Covid-19 cases, 7 deaths

The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Saturday, April 25 announced 532 new cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, taking the total number of cases in the country to 9,813. MoHAP also announced 127 new recoveries, taking the total number of recoveries to 1,887 as of April 25. The ministry condoled the deaths of 7 patients, who tested positive or Covid-19 and died due to complications. The death toll stands at 71 as of April 25. The tests exceeded the one million mark in the UAE.

Dubai Metro, public bus and taxi services resume

With Dubai's Metro and bus services resuming today, commuters have been told to start early to make time for social distancing measures. The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) urged Metro riders to reach their respective stations at least 30 minutes before their trip. All Metro stations except Baniyas, Palm Deira and Al Ras will operate from 7am to 11pm, while buses will run according to its usual timetable from 6am to 10pm. Additionally, public parking will be reactivated at all zones from today.

Meanwhile, Amer visa centres will also be opened today. It will receive customers from 9am to 3pm. It will receive customers at a maximum occupancy of 30 per cent from 9am to 3pm.

Deira Gold Souk in Dubai reopens

Though Dubai's Al Ras, Naif and Deira Gold Souk were placed under strict quarantine, authorities have confirmed that restrictions in these areas will be eased in parts. Deira Gold Souk is set to reopen starting Sunday, April 26, according to a trade circular from the Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group (DGJG). Following similar guidelines issued for the reopening of malls, high-street outlets and souqs in Dubai, Deira Gold Souk will be allowed to operate under certain conditions. Stores and offices in the area must be cleaned and sanitised prior to reopening, the circular said. Traders may run retail shops from 11am to 9pm and wholesale offices from 10am to 5pm. However, if any business would like to operate for shorter periods, they may do so, it added.

Families in shock as UAE expats' dead bodies are returned from India

Families were shattered as the three dead bodies of UAE-based Indian expats were returned to the country from New Delhi, India. Family members waited outside the Indira Gandhi International Airport for hours, but they were later told to go back home as the remains of expats Jagsir Singh, Sanjeev Kumar and Kamlesh Bhatt were flown back to Abu Dhabi, following a new order implemented by India's Ministry of Home Affairs. Inderjeet, brother-in-law of Sanjeev based in Al Ain, said their family in Punjab was devastated. "This is a non-coronavirus death. We had a death certificate as proof and all necessary documents from Indian Embassy. But the body was returned while our family members waited outside the airport. This is very shocking," Inderjeet said. "The body shouldn't have been returned. It's difficult to travel across states due to Covid-19 restrictions and also to arrange the ambulance," he added.

New regulations laid out for social interaction in UAE

The Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) and the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) have announced a set of social and health guidelines pursuant to the decision to amend the National Disinfection Programme. The new guidelines include conditions for visits and exercise during the holy month of Ramadan. In a joint circular, the authorities detailed the following guidelines.
Dubai residents hope for parking discounts as they #StayHome

As Dubai parking charges return to normal starting Sunday, April 26, residents have expressed concern about having to shell out more in fees as they #StayHome. According to an announcement made by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), "the public parking fees will be back to normal, starting Sunday, April 26 from 8am until 6pm, and the second period from 8pm until midnight". The authority earlier waived the charges from March 31 amid the Covid-19 outbreak and extended the free parking scheme until April 25. Residents affected by the pandemic situation are hoping the authority would reconsider giving discounts. With the resumption of public transport services, commuters also wish there could be discounted fares.

#StayHome, says 7-year-old in UAE who beat Covid-19

A seven-year-old Syrian girl has become one of the youngest Covid-19 survivors in the UAE. She is now keen on telling her friends to #StayHome to avoid falling sick. Leen was admitted to the Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi on April 11 with high fever, severe cough and breathlessness. Her nasal and throat swabs test confirmed that she was Covid-19 positive. Leen recovered from Covid-19 after one week of treatment and was discharged on Thursday to a standing ovation from the hospital staff.

Digital campaign celebrates Abu Dhabi airport employees

A campaign has been launched by the Abu Dhabi Airports to recognise the efforts of its employees at the Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH). The #StandbyAUH campaign showcases the range of employees and stakeholder staff working at the airport during the Covid-19 outbreak. Frontline employees from Abu Dhabi Airports and Etihad Airways, as well as teams from the Abu Dhabi Police, customs, immigration and rescue and fire response are working 24/7 to enable essential operations, supporting citizens and residents across the country and facilitating repatriation flights and the delivery of humanitarian aid to countries around the world. The campaign invites the public to stand by those who are continuing to operate the UAE capital's vital aviation infrastructure.

50 Dubai restaurants donate 400,000 meals

Fifty eateries in the UAE have collectively contributed over 400,000 meals to '10 million meals', the country's largest food distribution drive. The eateries will provide an average of 13,360 meals a day to the campaign that aims to feed individuals and families financially affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. Cash and in-kind donations have been pouring in for the humanitarian campaign that was launched last week by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. While businessmen and entities have pledged millions of dirhams in cash, the campaign has also received unique donations like a million bananas and two tones of apples.

Download app to know if you've been in contact with Covid-19 patient

Residents are urged to download the new smart app introduced by the health ministry to make contact tracing easier. Called 'Al Hosn Al Raqmi', the application would allow the Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) to identify people who have been mostly exposed to the virus, said Dr Amena Al Shamsi from Mohap. "Every user will have a QR code which indicates a guide to his health condition. It also has a feature where the person can know whether he or she has been in contact with anyone who tested positive for Covid-19," she said on Saturday. As movement restrictions are eased in some parts of the country, Dr Al Shamsi reminded everyone that strict safety measures still apply.

Live-streaming of Taraweeh will lift our spirit: Worshippers

Muslim worshippers have welcomed the live TV and radio broadcast of Taraweeh prayers from the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, saying this would help them keep the spirit of Ramadan alive in their homes. The Ministry of Presidential Affairs (MoPA) - in coordination with the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments (GAIAE) and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre - said on Saturday that the live airing of the prayers would continue throughout the holy month. It has been decided that the Taraweeh prayers at the mosque would be limited to the imam and two worshippers, in line with precautionary measures taken to curb the spread of Covid-19, authorities said. The two worshippers, who would be allowed to perform the prayer at the mosque, must wear face masks and gloves at all times. Regular screenings would also be conducted.

Ajman prepares for reopening of malls, eateries

The Department of Economic Development-Ajman (DED-Ajman) has spelt out certain conditions and requirements for establishments as it considers reopening some businesses while adhering to the precautionary measures put in place to contain Covid-19. The businesses that could be reopened include malls, shopping centers, restaurants, cafes and various offices in the emirate. The department will soon officially announce the date of the reopening of these businesses. An official said the reopening decision has been taken following visits carried out in the malls and commercial outlets by a team of inspection department headed by Sheikh Ahmed bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, chairman of DED-Ajman. He pointed that after the inspection tours, the department decided to consider resuming some of the business activities which are vital for providing basic needs to the residents during the holly month of Ramadan.

Abu Dhabi Ports announces major relief package

Abu Dhabi Ports on Saturday announced major initiatives to address concerns of its customers across its industrial and economic zone subsidiaries in these uncertain times. The relief package includes several measures for existing customers, including a three-month rent deferment for Q2, a freeze on late payment penalties and an exemption from Tawtheeq fees. The relief package also includes measures for new investors, including a waiving of applications fees, a 25 per cent reduction in land lease rates for the first year, an exemption on Tawtheeq fees and a relinquishing of land fixing fees. The measures are part of Abu Dhabi Ports' relief effort for investors and customers in response to the global economic slowdown due to coronavirus pandemic.

UAE residents save money by curbing all kinds of wastage this Ramadan

Awareness on saving money by curbing wastage is gaining ground among the UAE residents this Ramadan. With the Covid-19 creating financial uncertainties for several families, the only rational way ahead is to manage expenses. Nadir Hashmi, a Dubai-based management consultant, said his average spending has gone down by 30 per cent in the past couple of months simply by refraining from buying non-essential items. "We often buy new gadgets around this time with all the offers going on. You don't always need those, but are lured into buying them. It later adds to e-waste. Now, we are keeping a strict tab on such indulgences." As organisations and individuals brace for an uncertain financial future, Nadir, who has been asked to finish his paid leave, feels it's equally important for everyone to plan and save as much as possible.

'We hope Allah will forgive and rid us from Covid-19 threat'

Partial lockdown during Ramadan has been a blessing in disguise for Abu Dhabi-based Malaysian expat Adilatul Abdullah and her family. "Things used to be rushed as kids had extra-curricular classes to attend after Iftar. I used to quickly pray and then drop them off for their activities and the schedule was hectic. This year will be a relaxed Ramadan where we can focus on the spiritual part and devote more time to worship," said the housewife. Abdullah is grateful to Allah for having her family - her husband Noor Nazri and two children, 13-year-old Alyssa and 17-year-old Aiman -safe and sound with her. And, in order to show gratitude, the family plans to devote as much time as they can to prayers and other acts of worship.

Ismail Sebugwaawo

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