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Coronavirus news bulletin from UAE: Movement restrictions lifted; 702 new recoveries; vaccine by end of 2020 or early 2021; children under 12 allowed in malls

ismail@khaleejtimes.com Filed on June 25, 2020
Movement restrictions lifted, news bulletn, covid news, malls,

(File photo)

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 lifts all movement restrictions

The UAE has completed its national sterilisation programme and lifted movement restrictions effective Wednesday. This means residents can travel freely across the country any time of the day. Earlier, they were required to stay home during the national sterilisation programme timings of 11pm to 6am in Dubai and 10pm to 6am in all other emirates. Addressing a virtual Press briefing on Wednesday, Dr Saif Al Dhaheri, Spokesman for National Crisis & Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA), said: "The programme helped us sterlise public facilities like public transportation means, including the Dubai Metro. We will continue to sterilise all public facilities."

UAE expects Covid-19 vaccine by end of 2020 or early 2021

The UAE has started the phase 3 clinical trial of a Covid-19 vaccine that is expected to be available by the end of 2020 or early 2021, authorities said on Wednesday. This clinical trial operation is part of the country's partnership with China. It is the world's first inactivated Covid-19 vaccine to enter the third phase of trials. An agreement was recently signed between the Chinese pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm and Group 42 (G42), an Abu Dhabi-based artificial intelligence and cloud computing company. G42 will lead the clinical trial operations in the UAE under the supervision of health authorities in Abu Dhabi. "The vaccine succeeded in passing the first and second stages of the experiments without causing any harmful effects, as the percentage of volunteers who managed to generate antibodies after two days of the dose reached 100 per cent," said Dr Farida Al Hosani, official spokesperson of the UAE health sector.

UAE reports 450 new Covid-19 cases, 702 recoveries

The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Wednesday reported 450 new cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, along with 702 new recoveries. This brings the total number of cases to 46,133 and the total recoveries to 34,405. Two deaths had also been announced in the country as a result of the illness, bringing the total number of deaths to 307. The number of active cases in the country is 11,421. "The health sector has announced the third phase of clinical trials of Covid-19 vaccine. This achievement is part of the comprehensive system of scientific research that the UAE's health sector is working on. Third phase of clinical testing of Covid vaccine. This achievement is part of comprehensive scientific research in health sector.", Dr Farida Al Hosani, Official Spokesperson for the UAE Health Sector said

Children under 12 allowed in malls, eateries across UAE

Children under 12 years will be allowed at malls and restaurants across the UAE, a top official has said. Addressing a virtual Press briefing on Wednesday, Dr Saif Al Dhaheri, Spokesman for National Crisis & Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA), said: "We have sterilised all public facilities, and will continue to do so." The official also added that the national sterilisation programme will continue. "The programme helped us sterlise public facilities like public transportation means, including the Dubai Metro." Dubai had on June 18 lifted movement restrictions on the elderly and children under 12 years of age. With the latest announcement, the movement restrictions on children have been lifted across the emirates. A limit of three persons in a car remains in force across the country, the official said. However, the cap does not apply to members of the same family. If there are more than one person in the car, they are all required to wear masks.

Abu Dhabi entry ban in place as UAE ends movement restrictions

Following the completion of the National Sterilisation Programme in Abu Dhabi, residents may now move freely within the emirate, Abu Dhabi Media Office announced on Twitter. Exiting Abu Dhabi does not require a permit. The entry ban to Abu Dhabi remains in place, except for pre-exempted categories. The UAE has completed its national sterilisation programme and lifted all movement restrictions effective Wednesday. This means, after 90 days of curbs, residents can travel freely across the country any time of the day or night.

Abu Dhabi to reach out to parents for their say on school reopening

Parents and students will play a major role alongside the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) in shaping a safe return to classrooms education. The Ministry of Education (MoE) has announced that a plan is in place to assess the potential reopening of schools for the new academic year, according to education regulators in Abu Dhabi. The MoE on Monday issued a set of guidelines for a possible reopening of schools, universities and nurseries in the next academic year in September. Anoud Abdullah Al Hajj, official spokesperson for the MoE, said a plan has been developed to discuss the possibility of resuming studies in all government and private educational institutions by adhering to strict precautionary measures. With regulators in each emirate responsible for working with education institutions to chart back-to-school policies for faculty, students and parents in adherence to safety guidelines issued by the government, Adek will ensure Abu Dhabi parents have their say on specific variables via a comprehensive and anonymous survey run in collaboration with schools.

Flydubai to resume flights to 24 destinations, opens booking

Dubai-based airline flydubai has announced flights to 24 destinations, initially, after resuming commercial operations from July 7. The airline expects to increase it to 66 destinations during the summer. Destinations and flight frequencies will continue to be added to the schedule over the summer, a statement issued on Wednesday said. Hamad Obaidalla, Chief Commercial Officer of flydubai, said: "Flights are available for booking from today and will operate from July 7.  We are initially planning to operate to 24 destinations and we will continuously add destinations and flight frequencies to the network and we expect this to increase to 66 destinations over the course of the summer. This, of course, will be dependent on countries being able to open up and accept international travel.

Adnec field hospital in Abu Dhabi now free of Covid-19 cases

The Adnec field hospital is now free of Covid-19 patients, the Abu Dhabi Media Office announced. The field hospital has been providing exceptional healthcare to residents in the emirate ever since it was set up. Earlier this week, it was announced that Mediclinic hospitals in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain were free of Covid-19 cases. The emirate has been successful in flattening the curve of Covid-19 cases with mass testing and early detection. Half a month of movement restrictions on entering and exiting the Capital and travelling between its regions has seen the health authorities scale up screenings in the industrial area of Mussafah, Al Ain and other high-density areas, and so far more than 388,000 residents have been tested as part of the expanded National Screening Programme.

Mussafah screening centre in Abu Dhabi shuts down after over 100,000 tests

On a day when cultural hubs across Abu Dhabi reopened, a Covid-19 screening centre in the industrial area of Mussafah was shut, marking the end of a six-week comprehensive testing programme. On Wednesday, work started on the winding-up operations of Al Massoud Screening Centre run by VPS Healthcare. So far, 100,000 residents were tested at the centre in a two-month project. The Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) said that the National Screening Project in densely populated Musaffah has proved to be a platform for public-private partnership. The health authorities had on Tuesday announced successful completion of the project with a total of 570,000 tests being done across Mussafah, thereby fully containing the spread of the virus among residents, especially blue-collar workers. In a block-by-block drive, residents of 2,730 buildings were screened and 260 residential complexes sanitised.

Guidelines revised for chartering flights to India from UAE

The Indian diplomatic missions in the UAE have issued revised guidelines for charterers wishing to operate repatriation flights to India, Khaleej Times has learnt. For the past three weeks, chartered flights have been carrying Indian passengers from UAE to India and over 200 chartered flights have been facilitated by the Embassy and the Consulate under the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) of the Government of India said Consul-General of India to Dubai Vipul. However, for flights from June 25 onwards, a new standard operating procedure (SOP) has been put in place by Government of India for chartered flights from the UAE and some other countries added Vipul. In a statement to the media, the missions said that Embassy of India, Abu Dhabi and the Consulate General of India, Dubai, have worked assiduously to repatriate Indians stranded in UAE due to Covid-19 situation under Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) since May 7.

UAQ disinfects all means of transport

The Umm Al Quwain Municipality has disinfected all means of transport in line with the ongoing preventive measures to curb the Covid-19 pandemic. Ghanem Ali Saeed, manager, transport and public services sector, said the move will help keep passengers safe. "Safe and environment-friendly disinfectants have been used in the operation that covered all means of transport, including taxis." He added that a parking lot has been dedicated for disinfecting all the cabs registered in the emirate on a daily basis. "Well-trained staff thoroughly disinfect the cabs to eliminate any possible infection." Meanwhile, the civic body has disinfected most areas of the emirate as part of the national disinfection programme.

How the Covid-19 pandemic prompted digital transformation in UAE media industry

An industry survey in the UAE has gathered insights from media professionals and journalists from Arab and international organizations. The survey has addressed the UAE media amidst the global challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and their overall impact on the industry. The survey underlined the pandemic's major role in accelerating the digital transformation of print media institutions, which was presumably planned for a full transformation to take place over the coming years. It also highlighted the importance of upgrading digital media content within the plan to make the print editions obsolete. On the other side, respondents indicated that the main challenges they faced under these exceptional global circumstances are as follows: Difficulty to get interviews, delay in submitting material, as well as the difficulty in accessing information.

Indian curriculum school in Dubai to close due to 'Covid-19 impact'

A Gems school in Dubai has told its parents that it will close down at the end of the academic year due to the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. GEMS Heritage Indian School - Dubai which opened four years ago communicated to its parents on June 24, in a letter and a Q&A stating the reasons for its closure as well as assuring its parents that its students will be accommodated in its other sister schools. In a statement to Khaleej Times, Sir Christopher Stone, Global Chief Education Officer, GEMS Education shared: "It is with deep regret that GEMS Education has come to the decision to suspend all educational services at GEMS Heritage Indian School in March 2021. It is a sad day for not only students, parents and teachers at GEMS Heritage Indian School, but our entire education family.

Sharjah car market staff return to workplace at 50% capacity

Half of the employees of Souq Al Haraj for Cars (Sqah) returned to their workplace on Wednesday after having functioned remotely to stymie the spread of Covid-19. Sqah announced the reopening of its facility with 50 per cent of its staff capacity, while adhering to the highest standards of safety. Sqah, a project of Sharjah Asset Management which is an investment arm of Sharjah government, pointed out that all necessary steps will be undertaken to ensure the facility's smooth operation, including contract renewals and timely completion of transactions among others. Majed Al Mualla, manager of Souq Al Haraj for Cars, emphasised that the health and safety of its employees and customers are extremely important and all procedures have been implemented to safeguard them. "These procedures include conducting temperature checks, ensuring everyone is wearing masks and gloves, and keeping the facility sanitised at all times."

Mubadala's medical facilities in Abu Dhabi are now free of Covid-19 cases

Mubadala Healthcare on Wednesday revealed that its hospitals and medical centres are free of Covid-19 cases. The authority revealed that it's now fully ready to deliver medical services to the community, while adhering to all mandated precautionary measures to keep patients safe. Of the news, Abu Dhabi Media Office tweeted: "Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, Healthpoint, and Imperial College London Diabetes Centre have resumed care for the community with all safety precautions in place, including mask-wearing, physical distancing, and temperature scans. "A mass testing strategy is successfully increasing early detection [of coronavirus] and curbing the spread of Covid-19, reducing the number of cases requiring medical attention."

Abu Dhabi residents urged to comply with national screening programme

The Department of Health - Abu Dhabi (DoH) has urged all Abu Dhabi residents to cooperate with the national screening programme teams who are currently conducting Covid-19 tests throughout the emirate. This is part of the authority's new healthcare programme aimed at preserving the health of senior citizens and individuals with chronic diseases. The initiative aims to evaluate the situation from an epidemiological perspective and ensure the health and safety of citizens and residents. The campaign's focus will be on areas with high population density, and individuals who are most vulnerable to complications from potential infection, including the elderly and people with chronic diseases.

Sharjah parks ready to welcome visitors

Parks in Sharjah are welcoming visitors once more, according to an update by Sharjah Municipality on Wednesday.

In a tweet posted on its official account, the authority confirmed that all precautionary measures have been taken to ensure public safety.

Emirates temporarily suspends passenger service from Pakistan

Emirates on Wednesday suspended scheduled passenger services from Pakistan after certain passengers were tested positive for coronavirus.

"Following the announcement of positive Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong relating to certain passengers who travelled on our flights, Emirates has taken the decision to temporarily suspend passenger services from Pakistan, from June 24," the Dubai-based airline's spokesperson said in a statement to Khaleej Times.

However, the Dubai-based carrier said it will continue cargo and repatriation flights to Pakistan as per the announced schedule and is working hard to resume service as soon as possible.

Ismail Sebugwaawo


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