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Coronavirus news bulletin from UAE: 883 new cases reported; Dubai reopens responsibly; govt offices to resume on May 31

ismail@khaleejtimes.com Filed on May 28, 2020

(Photo: M Sajjad/KT)

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:

Dubai allows 100% government staff to be back in office from June 14

Government offices in Dubai will be allowed to function at full, 100 per cent of their capacity, it has been confirmed. The decision was announced on Twitter by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and chairman of the Executive Council. "Under the directives of @HHShkMohd, today we approved a decision that allows 50% of Dubai government employees to resume work at offices from Sunday, May 31, and 100% from June 14, 2020,  as we continue our gradual return to normal life with intensified precautionary measures," he said. Sheikh Hamdan said the decision comes as the emirate's wise investment in preparing for the future has paid off earlier than expected. "Our investments in the future paid off sooner than expected. It is reassuring to know we're heading in the right direction. Now, we're encouraged to redouble efforts, to accelerate our digital transformation for Dubai to become a model smart city, forever exceeding expectations," Sheikh Hamdan said.

UAE reports 883 new Covid-19 cases, 389 recoveries

The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Wednesday announced 883 new cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, as well as 389 recoveries and 2 deaths. MoHAP also confirmed two deaths today, in a press conference today. The new cases were detected after 27,000 more tests. Total infections as on May 27 stands at 31,969, while recoveries are 16,371. The death toll rises to 255. Dr. Amna Al Dahak Al Shamsi, official spokesperson of the UAE Government, said that gatherings were responsible for many news cases in the recent past. It is important to continue to avoid gatherings as each individual is responsible for their own safety and that of their families. Also, some violations were committed by some labour groups. The ministry urged the public to cooperate with health authorities and comply with all precautionary measures, particularly social distancing, to ensure their safety and protection.

30% government staff allowed in office from May 31

The UAE government has announced that federal government employees will resume working at offices at 30 per cent capacity from Sunday, May 31. The decision is within the framework of enhancing the continuity of government work and the gradual return of employees in offices and deparments to provide government services. It's also in line with the implementation of the remote working system for workers who have been excluded from the decision. The decision exempts select employees from returning to workplaces and they will continue working from home through the remote work system - for emergency situations. Exempted employees comprise pregnant women, people of determination, people with chronic diseases and immune deficiencies, and elderly workers.

Sheikh Hamdan announces award to honour top firms that fought Covid-19

His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, announced an exceptional 4th edition of the Hamdan bin Mohammed Award for Innovation in Project Management featuring a new category titled 'Innovative Practices in Handling the Covid-19 Pandemic'. With the new category, the award seeks to recognise organisations that have demonstrated outstanding innovation in project management during the Covid-19 pandemic. "Dubai is combating the pandemic in its own unique way, with innovative processes and solutions. Under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, innovation has always been a cornerstone of Dubai's social and economic growth.

'Gatherings blamed for increasing coronavirus cases in UAE'

Covid-19 cases are increasing in the UAE because of get-togethers being hosted by families and bachelors, a top official has said. "We must all avoid gatherings. Residents should avoid going to crowded places," said Dr Amna Al Dahak Al Shamsi, official spokesperson of the UAE Government, during a virtual briefing on Wednesday. Resumption of economic activities does not mean that the Covid-19 pandemic has ended, she reiterated. "Everyone is responsible for their safety and that of their family members and the community. We should continue adhering to the precautionary  measures including physical distancing, wearing face masks when going out and general hygiene in homes and workplaces."

Suspension of all social activities, celebrations extended

In line with the directives of Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah and Chairman of Sharjah Executive Council, the Sharjah Executive Council (SEC) on Wednesday issued a decree to extend the suspension of all social and sporting events, weddings, other celebrations in event halls, hotels and government and community facilities, until the end of June. This is as part of precautionary measures to prevent coronavirus. The decision is in line with the UAE's unremitting efforts to support the preventive and precautionary measures to contain the spread of Covid-19, aiming to ensure the health and safety of all citizens and residents. The decisions come into effect from June 1 until the end of June and the suspension will be further extended if necessary.

Dubai being back in business 'a ray of hope', residents say

Residents were happy to be back at their shops and offices on Wednesday, as more businesses in Dubai resume operations. They vowed to be responsible as they embrace their 'new normal' routines. An Australian expat in Dubai, Gary McShary, is back in his DIFC office after over two months. The finance professional, whose primary work is related to investments, believes there are certain things that can only be achieved over face-to-face interactions. "I am very happy that the government in Dubai has been proactive in opening up businesses here. This is the way forward. People can work rapidly and collaborate and decide on things much faster when they are physically present in offices," McShary said. Dubai has taken bold yet well-thought-out steps to bring life back to normal in the emirate. Economic activities have resumed amid strict Covid-19 precautionary measures, including social distancing, stipulated capacity and mandatory use of face masks.

3-person limit per car remains even as Dubai opens up

A limit of three persons in a car remains in force in Dubai, which opened up most businesses and increased staff capacity at offices to 50 per cent starting Wednesday. However, the cap does not apply to members of the same family. Responding to a resident's query on Twitter about the maximum number of people allowed in a car including the driver, the Dubai Police said: "3 people are allowed in one vehicle." Responding to another query about a car having five occupants from the same family, the police tweeted: "5 members of the same family are allowed to travel in the same vehicle without being fined for violating the current three-people limit."

UAE-India repatriation: 800 pregnant women flown home so far

More than 800 pregnant women have already been repatriated from the UAE to India as part of the Vande Bharat Mission. "We know there are thousands waiting but it is tough task for us to prioritise them. We have so far sent more than 800 pregnant women in advanced stage pregnancy and 850 plus patients back to India," the Consulate-General of India in Dubai said as the second phase of the UAE mission started on Tuesday. Pregnant women and those with medical emergencies have always been on the priority list of passengers for repatriation. On May 16, during the first phase, a record 108 pregnant women and 148 people with medical emergencies were flown back on just three flights. And now, with the second phase having additional flights, there is more hope for stranded Indians.

Emiratis lead from front in volunteering efforts

UAE volunteers have expressed an "overwhelming sense of pride" in serving the nation by assisting patients at the drive-through testing facility for Covid-19 at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi. A nation-wide volunteering campaign to fight Covid-19 and help families in distress started in April following the UAE Cabinet's approval for the formation of the 'Supreme National Committee for Volunteerism during Crises'. It aimed at creating an integrated and sustainable national volunteering system, in cooperation with all the relevant authorities, individuals and institutions. And since its launch, thousands of citizens and expats across the UAE have registered to help the government in various fields in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. In a video shared by Abu Dhabi Media Office on Twitter, some Emiratis, who had volunteered to assist patients at the drive-through testing facility, shared their experiences.

Sharjah issues deadline for 50% traffic fine discount scheme

Sharjah has announced the deadline to avail the 50 per cent traffic fine discount offer. Abdul Aziz Al Jarwan, Director of Sharjah Road and Transport Authority, SRTA, has stated that the 50 per cent discount on traffic fines, as directed by the Sharjah Executive Council, SEC, will end on June 30, as announced earlier. Al Jarwan noted that this is in line with the directives of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and as part of his keenness to enhance the living conditions of the people of Sharjah, especially during the current conditions as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Rashid Al Nuaimi, Director of Transport Activities Department at SRTA, noted that the fine reduction initiative, launched by the SEC, includes fines for violations committed before March 31, 2020, and for three months starting April 1, 2020.

Dubai parking fees resume, operation hours changed

Roads and Transport Authority Dubai announced the resumption of parking fees in the emirate. In a brief statement issued on Twitter on Wednesday, RTA announced that public parking fees will resume starting from May 27 (today). Parking hours starting from Saturday until Thursday will be between 8am until 10pm, until further notice. Business activities in the emirate can operate from 6am to 11pm, while movement will be restricted during the Covid-19 sterilisation programme between 11pm and 6am.

UAE begins third phase of sanitisation drive, Covid-19 testing

The third phase of the sanitisation programme and Covid-19 testing in the Musaffah area of Abu Dhabi will commence today (May 27) with Block 16. The programme is being implemented by the Department of Health, in partnership with relevant entities. This comes after the success of the first two phases of the campaign, which included 6 blocks in Musaffah. Residents welcomed the procedures, and expressed their appreciation for the efforts being made to protect their health and safety. Daily commercial activities will continue as usual. Entry and exit will be restricted while the area is being sanitised. No legal action will be taken against those violating visa regulations. Protecting the community's safety and curbing the spread of coronavirus is the top priority. Those living in the targeted block are requested to cooperate and follow instructions in order for the sanitisation and testing programme to achieve its objectives.

Indian expats who can't afford to pay for quarantine will be exempted from fees: Kerala CM

Stranded Indians who are returning to the state of Kerala but cannot afford to pay the institutional quarantine shall be exempted from fees, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Wednesday. The announcement comes a day after Vijayan said all expatriates - including the poor - must pay for seven days of institutional quarantine, which will be followed by a seven-day home quarantine. The decision on payments, however, was reversed after an all-party meeting held earlier in the day. "We will receive all people who wish to return. However, there has been some misunderstanding over the state government's decision on paid quarantine. This issue was raised by many leaders during the all-party meeting. But there should not be any apprehension in this regard. Poor people will not face any difficulty.

Salons shut in Sharjah for violating reopening rules

A number of salons and barbershops were ordered shut in Sharjah for violating Covid-19 safety measures, authorities said on Wednesday. The closures followed the inspections conducted by the Sharjah Economic Development Department (SEDD) to ensure beauty centres' compliance with the measures put in place to fight the spread of Covid-19. Wearing masks and gloves at all times and requirement appointments for services were among the rules laid out by the SEDD. Salons should also commit to sanitising their facilities regularly, it added.

Ismail Sebugwaawo


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