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Coronavirus news bulletin from UAE: Places of worship to reopen with safety rules; 93-year-old recovers from Covid; 100% govt staff to return to office

Ismail Sebugwaawo /Abu Dhabi
ismail@khaleejtimes.com Filed on June 30, 2020
uae mosques reopen, covid-19,  coronavirus, dubai

(KT file)

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 to reopen mosques on July 1
The UAE will reopen mosques and other places of worship at 30 per cent capacity, a top official has announced. However, Friday prayers will remain suspended in the country, said Saif Al Dhaheri, Spokesperson for the National Crisis & Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA) during a virtual press briefing on Monday. The official said certain mosques in industrial areas, labor residential areas, shopping malls and public parks will remain closed until further notice. He said health authorities already conducted Covid-19 tests for Imams and workers serving at the mosque to ensure health and safety of the worshippers. Al Dhaheri also spelt out guidelines that worship centres have to follow to welcome worshippers. A distance of three metres should be observed between each worshippers and no handshakes are allowed. Worshippers will have to perform ablutions at home.

UAE reports 449 new Covid-19 cases, 665 recoveries
The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Monday reported 449 new cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, along with 665 new recoveries. This brings the total number of cases in the country to 48,246 and the total recoveries to 37,076. The authority also announced one death in the country as a result of the illness, bringing the total number of deaths to 314. In a statement, the ministry highlighted its aim to expand the scope of testing nationwide, to facilitate the early detection of Covid-19 cases and carry out the necessary treatment. Over the past few days, many hospitals in the country were declared Covid-free after discharging their recovered patients.  Authorities in the UAE have observed an increase in the number of violations of Covid-19 precautionary measures after the night-time movement restrictions were lifted.

UAE residents need Covid-negative test to enter Abu Dhabi
UAE residents and visitors need a Covid-negative test result to enter Abu Dhabi, authorities announced on Monday. They should have received the results in 48 hours prior to their visit. The Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Committee for the Covid-19 Pandemic said the negative test results must be shown via the AlHosn app or as a text message from any hospital or screening centre in the UAE affiliated to the National Screening Programme. Entry of non-Abu Dhabi-based workers is still prohibited. "The movement of mail and all types of goods is exempted," the Abu Dhabi Media Office tweeted on Monday. The authorities reminded residents that they must continue to "adhere to all precautionary measures, including wearing masks and observing physical distancing inside vehicles". "This follows continued positive outcomes in curbing the spread of Covid-19 in the emirate," the media office tweeted.
 
All federal govt staff in UAE to return to office from July 5
All federal government employees in the UAE will report to office from July 5. Only employees with chronic diseases are allowed to continue working from home, the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources said. Such employees need to provide a medical report approved by an official committee, the authority added. Previously, some other categories of employees were exempted from going to office. These included pregnant women, people of determination, the elderly, and female employees with children in grade 9 and below, among others. A work-from-home system was activated for government employees in March to help keep them safe from Covid-19. Earlier this month, 50 per cent staff reported back to work. Dubai government offices have been functioning at 100 per cent capacity since June 15, while 50 per cent of Sharjah government staff have returned to work.
 
Stranded residents willing to pay up to Dh15,000 for a one-way ticket to UAE
Some UAE residents stranded in India say they will be resorting to the 'expensive option' of business jets to return to the country.With India further pushing back the dates for the start of scheduled passenger flights to foreign destinations including the UAE, expats who say they are desperate to return after months of uncertainty are willing to pay up to Dh15,000 per ticket to fly back to the country of their residence. Business jets, a mode of transport so far reserved for the well-heeled and not necessarily used for repatriation or evacuation of stranded people, have seemingly come to the rescue of those who can afford to spend between Dh10,000 and Dh15,000 for the option. Despite the price of a one-way ticket to the UAE on a 12- or 14-seater Business jet working out to about ten times of what a one-way Business class ticket used to cost in pre-Covid era from cities in India to those in the UAE, the residents are eager to shell it out and find closure.
 
Faith leaders in UAE urge worshippers to follow safety measures
After more than 100 days of closure as a precautionary measure against the spread of Covid-19, mosques and other places of worship will reopen in the UAE from July 1. Mosques, temples, churches and gurudwaras will reopen at 30 per cent capacity amid strict safety measures that will ensure social distancing between worshippers. Faith leaders and priests hailed the move and vowed to ensure that the worshippers adhere to all precautionary measures. Mohammed Al Hassan Khan, imam of a mosque in Deira, said he did not have words to describe his happiness. "The mosque will reopen after 107 days. Once again, the melodious recitation of the Holy Qur'an will reverberate throughout the city. "This has been made possible by the grace of Allah; the wise decisions taken by our esteemed leaders and the hard work of our frontline healthcare workers," said Khan. "The UAE leaders have been issuing directives and following up on them day and night to ensure the safety of citizens and residents."
 
Demand spikes for private jets flying from India to UAE
More private jets are being operated in and out of the UAE since Covid-19 restrictions were eased, according to private jet operators in the country. Popular charter destinations include cities around the GCC, Africa, Europe and island resorts in the Indian Ocean. "All charter flights operate with the appropriate permissions and clearances for the specific mission, route and destination. Passengers are required to submit some paperwork for the approval of authorities at the point of departure and destination. These typically mirror the requirements for passengers on commercial airlines and are subject to change at short notice," said Scott Glenn, director of sales at Empire Aviation Group. "On board, a rigorous sanitisation process has been introduced and the standard Covid-19 safety protocols are in place. Standard VIP catering is available to passengers on all flights," he added.

Testing campaign contains Covid-19 spread in Al Dhafrah industrial areas
A comprehensive screening and testing campaign in Abu Dhabi's Al Dhafrah industrial areas has helped "fully contain the spread of Covid-19" among residents. According to the Abu Dhabi Media Office, the campaign implemented by the Department of Health (DoH) covered the industrial areas of Madinat Zayed, Ghayathi, Al Marfa, Liwa and Al Sila. It "provided streamlined healthcare and support services to the residents", the media office added. More than 66,000 residents benefitted from free transportation, medical assessments and multi-language awareness programmes. Over 50 residential complexes were sanitised and 701 buildings screened as part of the programme. Over 300,000 face masks and 853,000 free meals were distributed among the residents.
 
UAE residents must be Covid-negative 3 days before returning to Emirates
UAE residents with valid residency visa permits who are currently out of the country must undergo a Covid-19 test and receive a negative result at least 72 hours before returning to the Emirates under new rules announced by the UAE government. The regulations, which come into effect from Wednesday, July 1, mean travellers are not permitted to board a plane bound for the UAE without first getting confirmation that they are free of Covid-19. The National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) and the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) announced the new rules as part of ongoing efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and support the UAE's strategy of gradually easing travel restrictions. As part of the new regulations, the UAE government has issued a list of preconditions that need to be followed ahead of the approved return of foreign nationals with valid residence permits to the UAE.
 
Ras Al Khaimah government staff to return to work from July 5
Ras Al Khaimah Government offices will resume work with 100 per cent capacity of the workforce from Sunday, July 5. The Ras Al Khaimah Department of Human Resources has circulated the decision that includes cancelling all exceptions granted to employees of the emirate's government. The exceptions are limited to only one category of employees with chronic diseases on the submission of a detailed medical report approved by the relevant medical committee. The move aims to ensure a safe return to business normalcy, with the continuous adherence to precautionary measures and preventive instructions in place to safeguard the safety of employees, in line with guidelines and measures taken to limit the spread of Covid-19. The decision stresses the importance of the government departments to adhere to the instructions related to professional safety and health with an emphasis on social distancing to the employees.
 
Dubai issues guidelines for worshippers ahead of mosques reopening
The Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department in Dubai (IACAD) has released a set of safety guidelines that worshippers need to follow when mosques reopen at 30 per cent capacity from July 1. Friday prayers will continue to remain suspended, the IACAD affirmed. Prayer rooms on the roads, and at industrial areas, shopping malls and parks will remain closed until further notice. The guidelines require worshippers to wear a mask and gloves while praying; bring their own prayer mats; and maintain a 1.5m distance from others. They also stated that the ladies prayer halls and ablution areas will remain closed. "Adhering to the authorities' instructions to contain the spread of Covid-19 is important. The reopening comes after a set of procedures were outlined for worshippers to follow," said Dr Hamad Al Sheikh Ahmad Al Shaibani, Director-General of the IACAD.

Residents stuck outside Abu Dhabi plan to take Covid-19 tests to go home
Abu Dhabi residents stuck outside the emirate since the movement restrictions were introduced say they plan to take Covid-19 test to finally go back home. The Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Committee announced on Monday that residents and visitors need a Covid-negative test result to enter Abu Dhabi. They should have received the results within 48 hours prior to their visit. "I am glad I can finally go back home. I live in Al Ain with my family, but have been stuck in Dubai since the first day of Abu Dhabi introducing movement restrictions," Pakistani expat Hassan Aftab told Khaleej Times. He said he came to drop his uncle to Dubai on June 2 - the same day restrictions on entering and exiting Abu Dhabi was enforced by authorities.

93-year-old woman in UAE recovers from Covid-19
A 93-year-old Syrian resident of Abu Dhabi has recovered from Covid-19 after spending weeks in the Intensive Care Unit at Al Rahba Hospital in Abu Dhabi. Nour Hamdi had visited Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City to undergo diagnostic tests involving her urinary tract. While at the hospital, she underwent a Covid-19 test and tested positive, and she was immediately transferred to Al Rahba Hospital to receive treatment. By God's grace and the timely medical care and efforts provided by medics at the hospital, Hamdi has recovered and has been transferred out of the intensive care unit. A video shared by Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) shows medical workers at the hospital clapping hands in happiness as the elderly woman was taken out of the ICU after her condition improved.

Ismail Sebugwaawo


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