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Coronavirus Pandemic

Coronavirus news bulletin from UAE: Phase 3 clinical trial of Covid-19 vaccine launched; Dubai schools gear up to welcome students; Sharjah to resume paid parking Filed on June 24, 2020 | Last updated on June 24, 2020 at 10.51 am
UAE coronavirus , Covid-19, China, warning, Coronavirus outbreak, lockdown, pandemic, Dubai, new cases, Covid-19 death, recoveries

(Photo: Ryan Lim/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:

UAE reports 380 new Covid-19 cases, 657 recoveries, 2 deaths

The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Tuesday reported 380 new cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, along with 657 new recoveries and two deaths. The new cases were detected through 40,000 additional tests. With thorough testing and wide-ranging preventive measures proving effective in curbing the rise in new Covid-19 cases in the country, emirates are now taking measured steps to lift these restrictions. As part of a broader plan to bounce back to normalcy, the UAE 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 Ministry of Education, said a plan has been developed to discuss the possibility of resuming studies in all governmental and private educational institutions by adhering to strict precautionary measures.

UAE launches world's 1st Phase III clinical trial of inactivated Covid-19 vaccine

Following a ceremony held on Tuesday via video conference between Abu Dhabi and Beijing, health authorities from the UAE have announced the commencement of the world's first phase III clinical trial of a Covid-19 inactivated vaccine. Inspired by the UAE leadership's vision and commitment to overcome the pandemic through a global collaborative effort, a clinical cooperation agreement was signed between the Chinese pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm China National Biotec Group (CNBG) and Group 42 (G42), the Abu Dhabi-based leading artificial intelligence and cloud computing company. G42 will lead the clinical trial operations in the UAE under the supervision of the Department of Health of Abu Dhabi. Commenting on the initiative Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention said: "Now more than ever, nations need to work in close partnership between the government and private sectors to create new initiatives, launch programmes, develop policies, drive rigorous research, and develop capacity."

Testing campaign contains Covid-19 spread in Musaffah region

A comprehensive testing campaign for the Musaffah area in Abu Dhabi was successfully completed within 6 weeks, and it contained the spread of Covid-19 among the residents of the region. The campaign, led by the Department of Health - Abu Dhabi and the relevant authorities, ensured access of healthcare services to all segments of society while providing support to hundreds of thousands of residents, including the provision of free assessment and medical examination for 570,000 resident workers, and surveying 2,730 buildings. The support provided by the campaign included distributing more than 750,000 masks and awareness messages in several languages, which led to high levels of commitment to precautionary and preventive measures.

Twins finally return to mum in Dubai as airspace opens up

It was an emotional reunion for six-year-old twins Masuma and Sundas as they ran to their mother Naheed at the Dubai International Airport today. Thanks to the new system that facilitated the return of stranded UAE residents abroad from Monday, the kids are now back home after being stuck in Islamabad, Pakistan, since March. Residents are required to get an approval from Dubai's General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) before booking flight tickets. As the Bilal siblings set foot in Dubai, they were greeted by their parents and triplet brother Haris. Their mother, Naheed - who had been making all possible efforts to bring them back -  said she was glad the emirate opened up its skies once again. "I am so grateful to the government of the UAE, people can now return to their families. Their flight was supposed to land at 11.35am but it landed half an hour early at 11am. We couldn't wait to see them," she said.

Schools, universities in Dubai allowed to reopen in new academic year

Schools and universities in Dubai will be allowed to open and operate from the start of the 2020/21 academic year, the emirate's Dubai's education regulator, Knowledge and Human Development Authority ( KHDA) has confirmed on its website. In its updated FAQs section, the authority said the education facilities will reopen provided they comply with specific health and safety protocols. The authority has also ruled out any fee hikes for the next academic year. In response to a question on whether all schools would reopen, the KHDA said: "Schools in Dubai differ in terms of size, location and number of students. In order to comply with health and safety guidelines, schools may choose models that best suit their circumstances and community."

We will perform Haj next year, say pilgrims from UAE

"We will perform Haj next year." This is how UAE residents who planned to go on Haj reacted to Saudi Arabia's decision to limit the principal Islamic rite limited to Saudi residents in view of the Covid-19 challenges. "I have been performing Haj for the last 15 years in a row," Emirati national Ibrahim Al Saleh told Khaleej Times. "I was hoping to perform the fifth pillar of Islam this year also. But given the current volatile situation, it does not sound reasonable or logical." The 55-year-old father of four sons and four daughters said he had changed his mind even before the latest official announcement came and annulled his plans for Haj this year due to the pandemic. "Limiting Haj to a certain number of internal pilgrims this year is a wise decision," he said. "At least Haj is not cancelled altogether as some have expected, and public health is still considered."

Dubai students will be safe in schools, head teachers assure parents

As they gear up for reopening, school leaders are doing their best to assure parents that their kids will be safe on their campuses. The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has confirmed that schools and universities in Dubai may reopen their facilities following the summer break, provided they comply with specific health and safety protocols. Campus learning was suspended across all educational institutions in the UAE in March, as part of precautionary measures to limit the spread of Covid-19. Since then, education went online and schools and colleges shifted to e-learning. Now that schools are given the green light to reopen, head teachers have been communicating with parents to assuage fears they may have. Brendon Fulton, executive principal of Dubai British School, said: "Our comprehensive safety plans will exceed the guidelines set forth by the regulators, and once parents see these, we are confident that they will have their fears allayed

Over 51,000 Covid-19 tests conducted at Abu Dhabi Airports

A total of 51,100 Covid-19 tests have been conducted at the Abu Dhabi International Airport covering passengers, airline crew members and airport employees since the first week of February. As passenger operations were suspended, the airport remained open for vital cargo operations, special repatriation flights and facilitating global humanitarian relief efforts. Mohammed Husain Ahmed, general manager, Abu Dhabi International Airport, said: "Operations at the airport have continued smoothly and efficiently despite the robust precautionary measures in place including social distancing, the mandatory use of personal protective equipment, thermal screening, and nasal swab and polymerase chain reaction testing. These measures were in line with the recommendations and guidelines of the UAE's health and civil aviation authorities and the World Health Organisation."

Sanitisation drive, Covid-19 testing in Al Dhafra industrial area begins

The sanitisation programme and Covid-19 testing in the Al Mirfa industrial area in Al Dhafra will begin today. The programme is being implemented by the Department of Health - Abu Dhabi in partnership with relevant entities. In a series of tweets late on Tuesday night, Abu Dhabi Media Office said: "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 area are requested to cooperate and follow instructions in order for the sanitisation and testing programme to achieve its objectives.

Sharjah to resume paid parking from Wednesday, July 1

The Sharjah Municipality has announced that collection of parking fees will resume in the city from July 1. Motorists were exempted from paying fees for a period of three months from April 1, based on a decision issued by the Sharjah Executive Council. Khalid bin Falah Al Suwaidi, assistant director-general for the customer service sector at the municipality, said the municipality provided 40,000 parking spaces for free to residents as part of a package of exemptions and facilities approved by the government to support citizens and residents during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Smaller class sizes, shorter hours: Dubai schools explain 'new normal' for students on campus

Schools in Dubai are now getting ready to reopen this September, after getting the green light from the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA). Dr Abdulla Al Karam, director-general of KHDA, virtually met all school leaders on Tuesday to discuss the reopening. The authority also published a new Q&A post on its website, addressing various queries on students' return to classrooms. It also ruled out any fee hikes for the next academic year. Speaking to various schools across the emirate, Khaleej Times has learnt that all institutes have been asked to submit a proposal on how they plan to reopen. They said they have been developing comprehensive safety procedures and guidelines, consulting other school groups, the KHDA and Ministry of Education throughout the process.

Ismail Sebugwaawo

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