Coronavirus news bulletin from UAE: 1,214 new recoveries; UAE develops rapid laser test; 3-month grace for visa violators; RTA updates public transport timings
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:
The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Tuesday reported 873 new cases and 1,214 new recoveries, bringing the total number of recoveries to 10,791. An additional 38,000 tests have been carried out in the country, the ministry added. Three new deaths from the infection were also announced on Tuesday. The ministry called upon the public to adhere to health guidelines and instructions from the relevant authorities, particularly concerning social distancing, for the sake of the health and safety of all.
QuantLase Imaging Lab, the medical-research arm of the Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange-listed International Holdings Company, IHC, announced that it has developed novel equipment which enables for much faster mass screenings, with test results available in seconds and allowing testing on a wider scale. The technology will reinforce the UAE's position as a hub of research and innovation, as scientists around the world scramble to devise a faster method of testing for patients suspected to have been infected with the coronavirus and potentially identifying carriers before they become infectious. This break-through will enable 'Mass-scale screening', changing the whole dimension of tracing and the speed with which workforces can be approached.
105 medical team from India arrives in UAE for Covid-19 mission
A team of 105 healthcare professionals from India landed in Abu Dhabi on a mission to treat Covid-19 patients. On Wednesday morning, the UAE-based VPS Healthcare bought the team of critical care nurses, doctors, and paramedics, on a specially chartered Etihad Airways. The Etihad Airways EY 281 landed here at 6.54am from Kochi. Holding flags of India and the UAE, they walked out of Abu Dhabi International Airport well-aware of the task ahead. As the UAE intensifies its fight against the pandemic, these professionals will be working in the critical care unit of various Covid-19 hospitals in the country. This is the second batch of nurses to arrive in the UAE after initial 88 staff joined frontline duties last week.
3-month grace for UAE visa violators who want to leave the country
A three-month grace period starting from May 18 has been provided to residency law violators to leave the country, it was announced on Tuesday evening. Residency violators will also be exempted from fines, including residents who overstay after their residence visas expired, as well as visitors who overstay their visit visas. As per the decree, all administrative fines will be waived for illegal residents and everyone with expired residence and visit visas. The move includes residency violators and those who violated entry and visa permits, including absconders from their sponsors, and violators of employment contracts and labour cards if the violation occurred before March 1, 2020.
Dubai's RTA updates public transport timings
The Roads and Transport Authority in Dubai has updated the service hours of public transport means (metro, tram, buses, marine transport, taxis, and shared transport) as well as customer happiness centres and centres of service providers as of Wednesday, May 20. The new timings conform to the revised national sterilisation programme from 8pm to 6am the following day. In a series of tweets, the RTA said it would apply all preventive and proactive health measures to adhere to physical distancing in transport means, stations, and centres. Passengers are obliged to wear face masks for their safety and that of employees and operators.
UAE starts mass production of N95 masks in Al Ain
The UAE has started its own production of N95 respirators at a facility in Al Ain. The first-of-its-kind manufacturing line in the GCC region will have an annual output capacity of over 30 million masks. The step comes in line with the UAE's effort to contain the spread of Covid-19. Mubadala Investment Company on Tuesday announced a strategic collaboration between its subsidiary Strata Manufacturing and Honeywell to produce N95 respirators at Strata's Al Ain facility. The UAE imports all N95 respirators from abroad but with this manufacturing line will not only be able to meet the national requirements of the health sector but transform the UAE into an exporter of this PPE product.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Media Council, on Tuesday called on Dubai media organisations to develop new plans and strategies and lay the groundwork for meeting audience requirements in the post-Covid-19 era. Sheikh Ahmed praised the outstanding performance of the Dubai media sector during the crisis. He said local media outlets played a significant role in helping mitigate the pandemic's consequences and increasing awareness among the public about the nature of the virus and precautionary and preventive measures. Sheikh Ahmed said the Dubai media sector provided a reliable source of information about developments related to the pandemic.
Etihad Airways lays off employees across departments
Etihad Airways has made redundancies across several units due to the economic impact of coronavirus on the airline and slump in air travel. "We are incredibly proud of our world-class workforce, however, we have had to make redundancies across several areas of our business to reflect current market conditions," an Etihad spokesperson said in a statement. Just like other carriers, the Abu Dhabi-based airline was forced to ground its fleet after restrictions were imposed on international travel. But now it is operating special flights and is also increasing their frequency - as well as adding new destinations to carry passengers to and from Abu Dhabi. Reuters had earlier reported that the carrier, which employed over 20,500 employees last year, laid off hundreds of them including cabin crew this month in order to cut costs and conserve liquidity. Citing sources, it had then said more jobs were expected to be lost.
There should be no buffets, gatherings and physical greetings for this year's Eid Al Fitr as UAE authorities called on everyone to strictly follow Covid-19 safety measures. And amid this pandemic, even get-togethers with 'just family' can be dangerous, doctors have warned. People should not let their guard down, said Dr Sherif El Shahawy, a gastroenterologist at Prime Hospital. "If you care about and love your relatives and friends, stay away from each other physically because this is a very sensitive situation and we must adhere to precautionary measures to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus," he said. When the outbreak was studied in China, it was found that the human-to-human transmission of the virus was largely occurring among families, according to a paper released by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
A number of outpatient care facilities - including alternative medicine centres, dental clinics, ENT and physical therapy - are set to resume operations in Dubai, Khaleej Times has learnt. In its latest circular to private medical operators, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) said among those that will be allowed to reopen are centres for Ayurveda, naturopathy, homoeopathy, Chinese herbal medicine and Greek medicine. The DHA suspended these services late March. For dental and ENT (ear, nose, throat) clinics, treatment will be limited to emergencies and urgent cases based on the assessment of the physician. These include acute dental pain, severe infections, injuries and trauma, orthodontics, root canal treatments, the circular said. All other appointments shall be postponed for public safety, it added. Physical therapy, chiropractor, and osteopathy services will resume as well.
The Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, UNSCO, expresses its gratitude to the Government of the United Arab Emirates for the delivery of 14 tonnes of urgent medical supplies. The supplies will support the efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic and its impact in the occupied Palestinian territory. The aid includes personal protective equipment, PPE, and medical equipment. Most notably, it includes 10 ventilators that are acutely needed. This aid is in line with the United Nations Covid-19 Response Plan for the occupied Palestinian territory. The plan supports the efforts led by the Government of Palestine to contain the pandemic and mitigate its impact.
Etihad Airways is continuing to increase the number of special flights it is operating worldwide to and from Abu Dhabi. Throughout May and June, the airline will increase frequencies on previously announced special flights and will add new services to Belgrade, Dublin, Geneva, Milan, Paris Charles de Gaulle, and Toronto. In addition to the recently launched link between Melbourne and London, Etihad will also add services to Sydney, allowing a direct transit connection to and from the UK capital via Abu Dhabi. Etihad continues to follow UAE and international government, regulatory and health authority directives to limit the spread of Covid-19. The airline has implemented an extensive coronavirus sanitisation and customer safety programme and is practicing the highest standards of hygiene at every part of the customer journey.
Residents stranded outside the UAE due to Covid-19-triggered travel restrictions can start returning to the country from June 1. The announcement made late on Monday comes as a relief for many families who have a loved one stuck abroad. Earlier, residents had to register on a Ministry of Foreign Affairs service called Twajudi, which fast-tracked the return of humanitarian or special cases. Now, these residents can register on the website of the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA). Here is the step-by-step process.
A new guide for families of children of determination offers information and support to deal with the current Covid-19 situation and help their kids cope with the changes in their daily routines. It has been launched by the Department of Community Development (DCD) in Abu Dhabi. Dr Bushra Al Mulla, executive director of the Community Development Sector at DCD, pointed out that the current situation and the shutdown of all schools, programmes and services has posed the children of determination a big challenge to change their daily routines. "Therefore, DCD has worked on creating a guide that helps tackle the situation by providing the families of kids of determination with the needed information and educational materials to continue supporting the development of their children while they stay at home," he said.
Nearly 300 e-vision requests made by families of children under custody were accepted and relatives allowed to meet the kids remotely via video-conferencing amid the Covid-19 situation. The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) said on Tuesday that as part of their precautionary anti-Covid measures and to maintain the safety of the kids and their kin, the department had expanded the implementation of electronic vision (e-vision) of the children subject to custody. The initiative allows communication between the child in custody and their relatives remotely via video conference, the department added. According to the ADJD, they have carried out the video communication by using (Webex meet) application for about 285 electronic vision requests and the volume of recipients of the service reached 1,004 beneficiaries. The service is aimed to maintain the family cohesion and connectivity in the community.
For families, Eid Al Fitr is a special occasion to come together and even go house to house to exchange greetings with friends and relatives - but not this year. Sticking to the social distancing policy, UAE residents are now planning to take their celebrations - online. It's going to be an all-day video call session for expat Roohi Diwan, who will be marking Eid away from her husband for the first time. Diwan and her three-year-old kid have gone to India for a wedding, leaving her husband in Dubai. "Although we have been stuck here in India for more than two months now, we are hopeful that this phase will end soon. My husband is very fond of our daughter so we will probably be online with him all day on Eid," Diwan said.
Soon, residents in Dubai may find green trucks on the streets, reminding them of the safety measures that must be followed to protect themselves and others from Covid-19. These new trucks - which are wrapped with infographics showing important dos and don'ts in different languages - was launched by the Dubai Police as part of its awareness campaign called 'Everyone is responsible'. A team on board the vehicle will be speaking with people on the streets to educate them about precautionary measures. In a video posted on the Dubai Police's Twitter account, staff members were also seen distributing meals from the truck. Lt-Col Mohammed Khalifa bin Sobeih, director of community relations department at the Dubai Police, said 12 trucks will be dispatched in areas where people usually fail to observe social distancing.
A Dubai-based social worker has come forward to undertake the last rites of a Covid-19 patient who died on Tuesday and whose family members are in mandatory home quarantine after they all tested positive for coronavirus. Dubai-based Indian social worker, Naseer Vatanapally, who recently recovered from the deadly disease, has agreed to complete the last rites of 77-year-old Ramesh Kalidas Pamani as per Hindu customs. "I have collected the passports from their home, and once the paperwork is complete, the cremation will take place at the Hindu Crematorium in Jebel Ali," Vatanapally told Khaleej Times. Long-time Dubai resident Krishnakumar Ramesh Pamani's life was turned upside down at 3.30pm on Tuesday when he got a call informing him of his 77-year-old father's death.
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