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Coronavirus news bulletin from UAE: 445 new cases reported; Sheikh Khalifa forms Frontline Heroes Office; unified protocol soon to receive tourists

ismail@khaleejtimes.com Filed on July 9, 2020
UAE coronavirus, Covid-19, warning, travel, Coronavirus outbreak, tourists, Visa, Flight, lockdown, Pandemic,

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:

UAE reports 445 new Covid-19 cases, 568 recoveries, 1 death

Maintaining a recovery rate much higher than the global average, the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Wednesday reported 445 new cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, along with 568 recoveries. Recovery rate in the UAE is now at 79.91 per cent, up from 55 per cent last month, while global average stood at 48 per cent. One new death was also reported. More than 51,000 new Covid-19 tests have been carried out, the ministry said. The UAE has been leading the world in per million Covid-19 tests. With another two million tests in the next 60 days, the country will touch a whopping six million tests by the end of August. The tests will target workers in the services and government sectors, covering public transport and taxi drivers, workers in hotels and malls, as well as government employees.

UAE to announce unified protocol to receive tourists

A unified protocol to receive international tourists to the UAE is getting ready and will be announced in next two weeks, said a top official from the Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) - Abu Dhabi. "We are working with the federal authorities and other emirates to have a unified protocol across the UAE," Ali Hassan Al Shaiba, Executive Director of Tourism and Marketing, DCT - Abu Dhabi, told Khaleej Times. "This will be aligned with the federal authorities - the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority and the airlines that will also be looking into different networks and how we can do the plan together. In two weeks we can announce the reopening plan for international visitors," he added. Al Shaiba noted that museums, cultural centres, hotels and public beaches in Abu Dhabi have already been opened for domestic tourists. "Abu Dhabi is ready to welcome domestic tourists. We are hosting people from different parts of the UAE."

New office set up to support UAE's frontline workers

A new office that will recognise and support the UAE's frontline workers in the long term has been established in the UAE. The Frontline Heroes Office, which will be headquartered in Abu Dhabi, aims to raise awareness of the key role played by the frontline workers during crises and emergencies by recognising their efforts and acknowledging their sacrifices, while also looking after their needs and addressing their priorities. The office was set up by the President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, via Federal Decree No. 95 of 2020. The new entity will be chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

Indian passport renewal applications to resume in Abu Dhabi

The Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi will remove "all restrictions" on passport renewal applications at BLS International Centres in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain from July 15. However, senior citizens (above 60 years); minors (below 12 years); pregnant women and people of determination are exempted from appearing in person at the centres. "All applicants are requested to maintain appropriate social distancing norms in accordance with local rules and regulations and wear face masks and gloves while visiting BLS centres," the embassy tweeted on Wednesday. Indian passport services at all centres were suspended in March as a precautionary measure against the spread of Covid-19.

Abu Dhabi residents optimistic about return to normal life after Covid-19

The majority of Abu Dhabi residents are hopeful that life will return to normal in 2020, following the impact of Covid-19, according to a new survey by The Department of Community Development (DCD) in Abu Dhabi. Drawing on a survey of over 8,000 people, the study shows that 58 per cent of residents believe life will return to normal this year, while just 17 per cent felt that a return to normality would be delayed until after mid-2021. Men are slightly more optimistic, with 60 per cent believing life will return to normal this year, versus 54 per cent among women. The findings also suggest that families with school-aged children believe it will take longer for normality to return. The survey also finds room for optimism when examining how Abu Dhabi residents are feeling as they look towards the Covid-19 era.

Travellers from 10 countries need pre-flight Covid certificate

Passengers travelling with Emirates from ten countries will have to present a negative Covid-19 test result before boarding their flights to Dubai, the airline said in an advisory on Wednesday. Certificates must have been issued no more than 96 hours before their departure. Dubai started welcoming back tourists on Tuesday, with safety measures in place across the emirate. As reported by Khaleej Times, those with Covid-negative certificates can explore the city without having to undergo quarantine or isolation period. While tourists are given the option to take the PCR test upon their arrival at the Dubai airports, Emirates clarified on Wednesday that for their passengers coming from certain destinations, "a Covid-19 negative certificate issued by a local government-approved laboratory" will be required to be accepted on the flight.

Welcome to Dubai: Burj Khalifa greets tourists with stunning show

Several holiday makers who made a beeline for Dubai as soon as it reopened to tourists on Tuesday are celebrating in the shadow of the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. And tourists who made their way to the glitzy Dubai Downtown were wowed by an impressive 'welcome back' show on the skyscraper's famed LED screen, which is the world's largest as well. The building lit up in an array of colours as it flashed 'Welcome to Dubai'. A video tweeted by the Government of Dubai Media Office on Wednesday shows socially-distancing tourists taking selfies and photos of the impressive show. A couple of tourists in masks are seen dancing, while a family gives the victory sign. The first set of holiday makers landed at the Dubai International Airport on July 7. On day one, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, headed to the airport to inspect all the safety precautions in place.

India bars private jets from flying to UAE, operators say

Private jets - the only flights that had been flying in dozens of stranded Indians to the UAE - have been barred by India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). With scheduled and repatriation flights not operating from India, private jets were getting increasingly popular among stranded expats, according to operators. The decision came as a huge disappointment for desperate expats who are trying every means possible to return to the UAE. Many passengers who were supposed to fly from Mumbai and Hyderabad on July 9 said they had already paid for their tickets and were "absolutely devastated" following the DGCA's decision. Expats shell up to Dh15,000 for a seat on the jets. The chartered jets were operating with all due permissions and clearances, said operators.

K9 police dogs may soon sniff out Covid-19 cases in UAE

Sniffer dogs are a common sight in sensitive places where they help authorities in detection work. But now, imagine waiting in a queue at a venue and being encountered by a canine who reaches out to you and takes a whiff of your armpits. This scenario may soon become a reality if specially trained K9 police dogs are employed to sniff out Covid-19 positive cases from the crowd. The UAE Ministry of Interior has completed trials on K9 police dogs who may now be employed to help them curb the spread of Covid-19. The move to use canines to sniff out Covid-19 cases comes after the successful completion of practical experiments and scientific studies. Figures from the experiments indicate that the canines would be able to quickly detect infected cases, help protect key sites, deal with huge crowds and secure large events, airports, and other places.

Church to honour frontline healthcare workers in Abu Dhabi

A group of youngsters from a church in Abu Dhabi will honour some 40 frontline workers from more than a dozen hospitals and healthcare providers. The Youth Movement of the Church of South India Parish in Abu Dhabi will organise a virtual function through Zoom platform on Thursday evening. "In its efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19, the UAE is a role model for other countries. The timely actions taken by the visionary Rulers of this country and the concerted efforts of various government departments combined with the dedication and commitment of the health professionals has played a pivotal role in the fighting this deadly virus," the church said. "We host this event as a mark of respect and in recognition of their services to keep the citizens and residents safe even while risking their lives," the church said.

Free tickets, discounts for UAE's Covid-19 warriors at Umm Al Emarat Park

UAE's Covid-19 warriors can now enjoy a free visit to Abu Dhabi's Umm Al Emarat Park, along with discounts on select food and beverage outlets. "UAE's frontline healthcare professionals will be granted 10 complimentary entry tickets to the park, valid until the end of this year, in addition to a 25 per cent discount at select food and beverage (F&B) outlets as a gesture of gratitude for their services during the Covid-19 pandemic," the park said. Healthcare professionals can avail the discount at a number of restaurants and cafes in the park, including Mövenpick Ice Cream (valid for a period of three months following the park's opening date), Green For Life, Pinza, Otaku, The Guilt Free Cafe and Farmers Bistro upon opening at the Park, and until the end of the year. All registered doctors and nurses in the UAE are eligible for the offer. All they have to do is show their proof of employment to the park's security at the main gate and the respective F&B outlets.

UAE-based parents of university students stuck in India appeal for help

UAE parents, whose varsity-going children have been stranded in India since March, have appealed to authorities to help bring their kids back into the country. Some of the Indian youth are stuck at their university campuses, while others were forced to vacate their hostels and fend for themselves, the parents and students lamented as they shared their plight during a virtual Press conference on Wednesday. On July 3, India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation announced that scheduled international flights will remain suspended until the end of the month and only special flights will be allowed to operate on a case-by-case basis. These flights were suspended on March 22 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Most of the stranded students have already received return approvals from the UAE's Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship and General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs. However, with no flights to fly them back, many of these papers have already expired.

Indian birthday girl flies stranded mum to Dubai on private jet

An Indian expat got the perfect birthday gift on Tuesday: Her 56-year-old mother is finally home after being stranded in India since February. Sadia Rakhange, an employee at the Sharjah Airport International Freezone, moved mountains and got her mom back on a private charter jet on July 7, which also happened to be her birthday. "My mother travelled back from Mumbai on a charter jet with 12 other passengers, which was organised by Empire Aviation. To my surprise, the company organised cake and flowers which my mom could give me upon landing. I couldn't have asked for a better gift than this," a delighted Sadia told Khaleej Times. Suraiya Sultan, a long-time Dubai resident, travelled to Mumbai, India, to attend her niece's wedding in February and then she decided to stay until the first week of April. However, with international travel suspended, she got stuck in Mumbai for nearly four months.

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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