Coronavirus news bulletin from UAE: Rise in recovery raise hope; Dubai govt offices resume 100%; quarantine guide issued
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:
The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Saturday announced 491 new cases of Covid-19 infections and 815 cases of recovery. One death was also reported. More than 40,000 new Covid-19 tests have also been carried out, the ministry said. With the latest cases of infections and recoveries, the number of active cases in the country has fallen to 14,941, slipping below the 15,000-mark for the first time since May 27, 2020. The recovery rate in the UAE has been steadily increasing, reaching 64 per cent today compared with the global recovery rate of 46 per cent The ministry expressed its sincere condolences to the families of the deceased and wished current Covid-19 patients a speedy and full recovery.
Government offices in Dubai are all set to operate at 100 per cent capacity from June 14, while those in Sharjah will resume with 30 per cent staff. A top official told Khaleej Times on Saturday that the measures his authority has implemented will boost employees' sense of safety and security and offer them mental support. Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), said the measures implemented at the authority's offices include flexible working hours to limit congestion when entering or leaving; continuous sterilisation; providing disinfectants, hand sanitisers, face masks and gloves; and thermal cameras for temperature checks. "There are different entry and exit points to ensure safe distancing. We are also informing customers and staff about precautionary measures," he said in a statement to Khaleej Times.
30% of Sharjah government employees return to work from today
Around 30 per cent of the Sharjah government employees will resume work from offices on Sunday, the Sharjah Human Resources Directorate has announced. However, pregnant women, people with special needs as well as those with chronic ailments and immune deficiencies, according to approved medical reports, are excluded from returning to the workplace depending on the nature of their work. In addition to the employees above 60 years, female employees who have school-going children in the ninth grade or below have been exempted until the end of the current academic year. Dr Tariq Sultan bin Khadim, head of the Human Resources Directorate and member of the Sharjah Executive Council, stressed that the decision to allow the return of government employees came following the directions of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.
Thirty-nine per cent of smokers cut down on smoking during the Covid-19 'StayHome' period and 83 per cent of the people put on face masks and gloves when going out, a poll has revealed. The survey was carried out by the Health Promotion Department (HPD) at the Supreme Council for Family Affairs Sharjah, in cooperation with the University of Sharjah. It aimed at investigating the impact of lockdown on dietary behaviour, lifestyle and health practices. The findings reflected people's enhanced awareness during the pandemic, thanks to the precautionary and preventive measures adopted by the UAE government. The preliminary results showed that 98 per cent of those surveyed believed that home isolation was a good way to protect their families and stop the spread of infectious disease outbreaks.
At least 1,000 UAE volunteers are set to undergo a three-day training that will allow them to support Covid-19 frontliners on the ground and help nursing staff at hospitals and field units. Launched by the UAE Volunteers campaign, the training initiative primarily aims to ease some of the pressure that the country's medical and nursing staff are experiencing as they fight the pandemic. The campaign managed to attract over 8,000 volunteers with basic first aid skills and experience of working with teams under pressure. Some 150 volunteers have so far signed up for the three-day training, as the group targets to reach 1,000 trainees for the pilot phase.
Aiming to identify the social impact of the pandemic and rethink initiatives to meet the needs of the community, the Ministry of Community Development (MoCD) has started an online survey. The poll, available in Arabic and English, was recently circulated to all employees the government to ensure maximum participation, the ministry said. Respondents are asked 51 questions related to social realities, variables and behaviours under the current circumstances, including education, jobs, number of family members like children studying at school or university, as well as senior citizens in the household. The survey attempts to identify how the community sees the Covid-19 virus and how much information they know about the infection and transmission. It also asks whether a family member, supporting staff, relatives, friends or co-workers have been infected.
Heeding public health advisories about taking extra steps to protect the elderly from the Covid-19 virus, families have made adjustments not only to keep them healthy - but also to help them beat #StayHome blues. Varis Sayed, whose elderly mother is a UAE resident, is confined to the house like several others who are practising social distancing. He makes it a point to help his mum keep a regular routine, with light exercises, cooking, gardening and playing with her grandkids. Prayer is also a part of her daily life, which provides her with peace and comfort. "In order to ensure my mum's safety and the family's overall wellbeing, we have become more particular about sanitisation standards in the house, changing clothes immediately after entering the house and needless to say, avoiding outsiders in the house," said Varis.
Dubai Tourism has issued fresh checklists and guidelines for residents returning to the UAE amid the Covid-19 pandemic, giving them quarantine options either at home or in a hotel. Residents need to complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine period and must follow all rules and regulations whether at home or in a hotel. The regulator said residents who choose home quarantine must meet certain criteria that will be verified by the authority. Returning expats will have to install and register Covid19 DXB App and sign an undertaking. The UAE on Thursday launched an initiative to allow residency visa-holders to return to the country, targeting the return of about 200,000 residents. Residents who wish to return to the country must first register their request on the website smartservices.ica.gov.ae and secure an approval prior to booking their flight tickets
Emirates airline has released a new video of its preparations to welcome residents and tourists to the UAE after a few months of lockdown. "We have been waiting, dreaming. Looking forward to when we meet again. We have also been preparing, getting ready, knowing the time to see each other, comes closer with every rising sun. We promised to welcome you with open doors to make your journey extraordinary," the Dubai-based airline said in the video released on its Twitter handle. "And your well-being is our priority. We said we need a moment and it will only be a moment more. Dubai! Daarna, Home. We will see you soon," said the airline in its message on its Twitter account.
Even after restrictions are eased across the emirate, many Dubai residents feel more comfortable communicating with their doctors through telehealth services and online platforms. Hospital and clinic call centres have been receiving a flood of patient queries as they strategise and update their telemedicine services. While some queries can be resolved through phone calls and video conferencing, other cases warrant more serious clinical intervention. Dr Ziad Alobeidi, head of telemedicine at Medcare Hospitals and Medical Centres, said telemedicine has been a big help for both patients and hospitals' emergency rooms. "Telemedicine is being used extensively in the prior triage of patients long before they arrive in the primary care clinics in an effort to reduce the pressures facing emergency rooms and clinics," Dr Alobeidi said.
Those returning onboard special chartered flights from the UAE to the Indian state of Kerala should have tested for Covid-19. K. Ellangovan, principal secretary, Kerala government, said over phone from Kerala: "Covid-19 test result is required for those people coming on chartered flights from the Gulf countries. "All passengers need to have a test certificate. The requirement of Covid-19 test is mandatory from June 20." He noted the additional precautionary measure is being taken as Kerala reports increasing cases of repatriates turning out to be Covid-19 positive. The Covid-19 test is mandatory for all chartered flights for which approval letters have already been issued. Many companies and associations, operating chartered flights from the UAE to Kerala, felt this will affect travel plans.
Thousands of students in the UAE, who will be starting university this year, are feeling uncertain about what to expect, with online learning and physical distancing measures likely to be in place. High school students had to deal with Covid-19 lockdowns amid preparing for their board examinations and now, many are worried if the ongoing crisis would pause an year for them. Many have had life-long dreams to study in international universities. They are now preparing to undertake online classes for the first semester and head over to the UK, Canada, Australia, and the US for the Spring intake. While students are eager to undergo new experiences, parents are worried about the safety of their children. Many international universities with campuses in the UAE are seeing a surge in enrolments this academic year, thanks to generous scholarships and transfer programmes.
When a 64-year-old parish member of St Thomas Indian Orthodox Church passed away due to Covid-19 related complications, his family members were also battling the deadly virus at a hospital in Dubai. Sharjah resident Kurian Varghese was under treatment for Covid-19 along with his wife and daughter. He was suffering from age-related ailments that were further compounded due to contracting the virus. A single member of the family - the deceased's son-in-law - now had to shoulder the responsibility of arranging the funeral service. Ensuring Kurian is given a respectful burial, Rev Fr Ninan Philip, vicar and president of St Thomas Indian Orthodox Church in Oud Maitha, stepped in and volunteered to conduct the funeral service. From receiving the body of the deceased from the hospital to digging his grave and burying him, Fr Ninan, along with another priest and an altar boy, performed all the steps required to give the deceased an honourable burial.
Multilateralism was the overriding theme of the ninth Online Cultural Marathon Symposium series, hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) on Thursday. Streamed live on the authority's social media channels, the virtual conference sought to explore the role of Covid-19 in creating a culture of unity. The panel consisted of ambassadors Kamal R Vaswani at the Singaporean Embassy in the UAE; Ernst Peter Fischer from Germany and Ludovic Pouille from French Embassy. The ministry's Director of Strategic Communications Hend Al Otaiba, who helmed the discussion, noted that while it's part of the UAE's DNA to expect the unexpected, the pandemic has, nevertheless, been an opportunity to learn. When asked what lessons could be drawn from the coronavirus outbreak, Fischer said: "Global issues require global solutions. The last time Germany experienced such a crisis was at the end of World War II, when Nazism was destroyed. We learnt then to work in a multilateral way and have very strong partnerships." That approach has been key to their crisis response in recent weeks too, said the ambassador.
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