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Coronavirus news bulletin from UAE: Worshippers pray at mosques; Pakistani expat stranded in India; full Abu Dhabi entry guidelines; Vlogger apologises for mask video

Ismail Sebugwaawo /Abu Dhabi
ismail@khaleejtimes.com Filed on July 1, 2020
Dubai mosques reopen, dubai covid-19, uae

(KT/M Sajjad)

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:

9 in 10 residents are happy with Abu Dhabi government's handling of the pandemic: Poll
A vast majority of citizens and residents have expressed their satisfaction with the way the Abu Dhabi government has handled the Covid-19 pandemic in the past few months, a new survey reveals. The 'Life during Coronavirus' survey polled 50,000 individuals (26,150 women and 23,850 men) since it was rolled out in April by the Department of Community Development (DCD). Of those surveyed, 9 out of 10 (90.5 per cent, 45,250 respondents)believe government officials took matters seriously and effectively. A similar number (89 per cent) felt government health institutions are fully equipped and able to deal with the pandemic while 92 per cent noted that the government was quick in deploying medical and non-medical staff to combat the virus. About 94 per cent confirmed their confidence in the authorities' ability to deal with the current situation and 91 per cent said the government has taken pre-emptive measures.

UAE reports 421 new Covid-19 cases, 490 recoveries, 1 death
The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Tuesday reported 421 new cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, along with 490 new recoveries. As many as 63,000 new Covid-19 tests have been carried out, the ministry said. One new death has also been reported. In a major announcement on Monday, the UAE announced that mosques and other places of worship will reopen at 30 per cent capacity. However, Friday prayers will remain suspended. Saif Al Dhaheri, spokesperson for the National Crisis & Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA), added that certain mosques in industrial areas, labor residential areas, shopping malls and public parks will remain closed until further notice.

UAE mosques reopen with socially-distanced dawn prayers
The UAE's first socially-distanced prayers were offered on Wednesday, July 1, as mosques across the country reopened at 30 per cent capacity. Places of worship reopened 107 days after they were closed to keep the faithful safe from the spread of Covid-19. As the dawn call for the Fajr prayer was given out at 4.03am, worshippers in face masks and gloves made their way to mosques carrying their own prayer mats. After over three months, the call for prayer did not have the phrase 'As-salatu fi buyutikum (pray in your homes)' introduced to encourage the faithful to not go to the mosques for their own safety. Worshippers at the mosques could be seen adhering to strict precautionary guidelines laid out by the authorities to curb the spread of Covid-19. Every second row at the mosques were left empty, while those offering prayers left a 3-metre gap between each other as guided by bright floor stickers.

Dubai community fund helps 172 expat workers fly home
As many as 172 workers have flown home from Dubai, thanks to the efforts of the Community Solidarity Fund Against Covid-19. The fund, launched by Dubai's Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department, in coordination with the Permanent Committee for Labour Affairs, has sponsored 172 tickets worth Dh184,040 to help workers in troubled companies return to their home countries. Dr. Hamad Al Sheikh Ahmad Al Shaibani, director general of IACAD, said the sponsorship of the tickets reflects the organisation's commitment to the humanitarian spirit and the value of tolerance that is part of the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Do all residents need a negative Covid result to return to UAE?
There are conflicting reports about whether or not airlines repatriating UAE residents from foreign countries are enforcing the requirement for a negative Covid-19 test result. The National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) had on Sunday, June 28, announced that all residents who are currently in foreign countries and wish to return to the UAE must furnish a valid and negative Covid-19 test result in order to be allowed to book a flight ticket on one of the UAE airlines. Authorities said the Covid-19 test needed to be conducted at accredited laboratories across 106 cities in 17 countries across the world. However, experiences shared by some KT readers suggest a negative Covid-19 test result is not being listed as a requirement by certain airlines.

'Wellness ambassadors' introduced at Abu Dhabi airport
Making sure that travellers feel at ease amid the new normal, a team of 'wellness ambassadors' has been stationed at the Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH), authorities announced on Tuesday. All specially trained service professionals, the AUH's new ambassadors will always be ready to help passengers, from answering common questions about staying safe while travelling to handing out masks, gloves and sanitisers to those who need them. "The ambassadors will ensure every traveller feels cared for and comfortable at Abu Dhabi International Airport," said Mohammed Husain Ahmed, general manager of AUH.The team will also be checking travellers' compliance with all safety regulations and guidelines issued by the UAE Government and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to curb the spread of Covid-19.

How to stay safe at mosques, places of worship
Doctors have urged the public to be extra-cautious as they head for places of worship tomorrow, July 1. While mosques, churches and temples offer people the peace that they need amid trying times, health experts reiterate that if precautions are ignored, the UAE's efforts to fight Covid-19 may go to waste. Dr Aamrah Shah, primary care consultant at the American Hospital Dubai, said: "The UAE authorities have put in place a set of guidelines for the safety of worshippers, so abiding by these rules should be top priority. Most of the guidelines stress on maintaining physical distance from the other person. This is because Covid-19 is transmitted when a person comes in close contact (within about six feet) with an ill or asymptomatic individual." Wearing masks and social distancing can effectively limit the spread of respiratory droplets, which are released into the air when a person coughs, sneezes or talks. Covid-19 transmission primarily take place through these droplets.

Kids under 12 don't need to take Covid-19 test to enter Abu Dhabi
Children under 12 years of age don't need to take a Covid-19 test to enter Abu Dhabi, Arabic media reported on Tuesday. Quoting the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Committee for the Covid-19 Pandemic, Al Ittihad and Emarat Al Youm reported that a negative test result is mandatory for everyone else to go to the emirate. As Khaleej Times reported on Monday, UAE residents and visitors should have received a Covid-negative result 48 hours prior to their visit. Residents and visitors don't need a movement permit to travel to the capital; they just need to show the test results via the AlHosn app or as a text message from any hospital or screening centre in the UAE affiliated to the National Screening Programme. Earlier, they needed to take a permit from the Abu Dhabi Police website.

ICA clarifies: No special 'NOC' for Indians returning to UAE
UAE residents currently in India need to obtain travel approvals from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) and there is no other special NOC required, a top government official has clarified. Humanitarian cases will continue to get precedence, the official said. "Those who wish to return must apply through our website and secure approvals. The approval they receive is the NOC to travel to the UAE. There is no special No Objection Certificate for traveling back to the emirates," Brigadier Khamis Al Kaabi, Spokesperson for the ICA, told Khaleej Times. "Applicants can mention the reasons for their return and a special committee will go through all applications and give preference to humanitarian cases," said the official. Al Kaabi's comments clarify that the NOC referred to by the UAE Embassy in New Delhi in a now-deleted tweet, is in fact the ICA permit that has been a requirement for all passengers.

UAE vlogger takes down video claiming that wearing cloth masks incurs Dh500 fine
An Emirati vlogger has taken down a video in which he had erroneously claimed that people wearing cloth masks will get fined Dh500. The vlogger, who is known by the name Prince Jack Abood (PJA), has apologised after deleting the video. An apology posted by the vlogger reads (post edited for clarity): "We had got fake information that some people were being fined Dh500 for wearing cloth masks. PJA took this up seriously as we care for people. Please accept our apologies for the post. I have already deleted it." The PJA page has more than 2,400 followers. The video was posted on Monday and shared widely in many WhatsApp groups. Some residents said they got confused after watching the video and switched to surgical masks available in pharmacies.

Abu Dhabi issues more details about entry requirements
Further details have been released on the decision to allow entry to Abu Dhabi to UAE residents and visitors who have had a Covid-19 negative test. Those wishing to enter the emirate should have received the results in 48 hours prior to their visit. On Tuesday evening, Abu Dhabi Media Office tweeted a series of FAQs about the decision, including why Abu Dhabi is different from other emirates and what happens about people leaving for the weekend to visit family etc. The decision supports the ongoing efforts of the national screening programme to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Pakistani woman stranded in India wishes to return home to Dubai
A Dubai-based Pakistani woman stranded in India for nearly five months is seeking help to come back home. Married to an Indian, 32-year-old Ayesha Ajaib flew to her husband's hometown in Kolkata on February 21 to introduce her newborn son to his paternal grandparents. Ayesha and her husband Mohammed Farhan (33) were supposed to return to Dubai in late March. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19-triggered travel restrictions, the couple is stuck in Kolkata. "Ayesha's family has been associated with Dubai for over 40 years. When travel curbs were introduced in the UAE and India, Ayesha's family was in Pakistan. Luckily, all of them have returned to Dubai. Only we are still stuck here," Farhan told Khaleej Times. Ayesha said this was her second visit to India. "My first visit was in 2019. I was born and raised in Dubai. I met my husband in Dubai in 2015 and we got married in 2018," said Ayesha.

Abu Dhabi to host Liwa Date Festival on July 17-23; no visitors
A dates festival will be held in Abu Dhabi's Liwa on July 17-23, the emirate's media office announced on Tuesday. The 16th edition of Liwa Date Festival will be closed to visitors. Participants, farmers and staff will undergo Covid-19 tests. Activities will be limited to a date beauty contest and some others related to fruits. "Comprehensive measures will be in place to protect the health of participants, including Covid-19 tests and special procedures to ensure physical distancing," the Abu Dhabi Media Office tweeted. Prizes worth up to Dh8 million are up for grabs during the week-long festival. Up to four new awards have been introduced. The festival is being held as per directives issued by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

author

Ismail Sebugwaawo

A professional journalist originating from Kampala, Uganda, Ismail is a happy father with strong attachment to family and great values for humanity. He has practiced journalism in UAE for the past 13 years, covering the country's parliament (FNC) and crimes, including Abu Dhabi Police, public prosecution and courts. He also reports about important issues in education, public health and the environment, with a keen interest in human interest stories. When out of reporting duties, he serves the Ugandan community in Abu Dhabi as he wants to see his countrymen happy. Exercising and reading are part of his free time.


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