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Coronavirus Pandemic

Coronavirus news bulletin: Major milestone for UAE Covid vaccine; several students continue e-learning; kids, elderly allowed at non-Muslim places of worship

Ismail Sebugwaawo /Abu Dhabi Filed on August 31, 2020
covid-19, vaccine, coronavirus, dubai, abu dhabi, back to school


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 362 Covid-19 cases, 398 recoveries, 3 deaths
The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Sunday reported 362 cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, along with 398 recoveries. Three deaths were also reported. The new cases were identified after conducting additional 87,955 tests. The UAE has carried out nearly seven million Covid-19 tests across the country so far. Over the weekend, it was announced that mosques and places of worship in industrial areas as well as labour accommodations in the UAE will reopen for worshippers. Taking to Twitter, the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority said: "The General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments and National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority announce the reopening of mosques and other places of worship in industrial areas and labour accommodations".

UAE Covid-19 vaccine: 31,000 volunteers vaccinated in phase 3 trials, registrations closed
The first Phase lll trials of an inactivated vaccine for Covid-19 in the United Arab Emirates are among the largest in the world in volunteer recruitment having reached 31,000 vaccinated volunteers from more than 120 nationalities in only six weeks. The speed and efficiency of volunteer registration, screening and vaccination is setting new global benchmarks for the 4Humanity trials of the inactivated vaccine developed by Sinopharm CNBG. The trials are being managed by Abu-Dhabi based G42 Healthcare in partnership with the Department of Health - Abu Dhabi, the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHaP) and Abu Dhabi Health Services Company.

Schools in UAE reopen with Covid-19 protocols in place
Everything is set as school students return to campuses today for their first socially distanced classes. School managements have taken all steps to ensure safety under the guidance of Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) officials. However, some Dubai schools have decided to postpone the reopening of their campuses as some teachers and staff are yet to undergo Covid-19 tests, Khaleej Times has learnt. Instead of welcoming back students to classrooms today, these schools started the new academic term with online classes as they await virus test results. Last week, the KHDA made it mandatory for all Dubai school staff to get screened for Covid-19 prior to reopening.

Empty seats, teachers wearing headset mics: Inside a Dubai classroom on first day of school
It was an unusual first day of classes in Dubai: Classrooms were sparsely populated, majority of seats were empty, and only a handful of chairs were occupied by students who had opted for face-to-face classes. Some children were brought in by their parents, while others came on school buses - all in an organised manner, with safety measures in place. The yellow buses were less than half full, as part of physical distancing measures, and parents were not entertained within the building premises beyond a certain point. Among the students at GEMS Our Own Indian School, the usual back-to-school excitement was in the air, but there was also a tinge of anxiety. After all, it was the first day of a 'new normal' class after schools shuttered down in March because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Several UAE students continue distance learning from the safety of their homes
For majority of students in the UAE, this year's first day of school was entirely different from what they were used to: They woke up early, washed up, had their breakfast, opened their laptops and off they went - tapping and typing their way to their classes. No bags to arrange and no snacks to be packed, but what remained was the excitement for another year of new learning adventures. Several students and parents Khaleej Times spoke to said they would continue sitting for distance learning classes "until the Covid-19 situation improves"."I am waiting for the daily number of cases in the UAE to go down to two-digit numbers. I will be opting for distance learning classes for the rest of the academic year," said Amal Sameer, a Grade 8 student of Delhi Private School (DPS) - Sharjah.

Even without high-fives, feel-good vibes fill schools in Abu Dhabi
No high-fives were allowed in school - but the feel-good vibe filled the classrooms in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. Though there were only a handful of them, tiny tots of the primary wing brought with them the morning chitters, which had been missing in schools for months. Back-to-school jitters were swiftly swept aside as they finally say their friends. The months of catching up were all hush-hush, though, as everyone remembered the instructions given to them by their parents: No handshakes, hugs or kisses and keep a safe distance. If someone did forget, guidelines on the floor and walls served as constant reminders

How this Dubai-based educator 'walks the talk' to beat Covid-19
As an educator, it's all the more imperative that she walks the talk and leads by example in all that she does. Apart from the mandatory use of face masks, gloves, sanitisers and frequent washing of hands, Annie Mathew, principal of Gulf Model School, has set some stringent rules for herself. "There are many habits which we pick up over the years and follow without actually realising that we are doing it. Touching of surfaces and objects is something I have become more mindful," said the educationist. Trying consciously to change these deep-seated habits that are seemingly small yet important, Annie seems to have come a long way and the pandemic has proved to be a great teacher.

Kids, elderly allowed as all non-Muslim places of worship reopen in Abu Dhabi
All places of worship for non-Muslims will be reopened from Monday at 30 per cent capacity, local authorities said on Sunday. "In response to requests, it was decided to allow children to enter the places of worship to practise their religious rituals ... The elderly worshippers who do not suffer from any chronic diseases are also allowed to enter," said Sultan Al Mutawa Al Dhaheri, Executive Director of Community Engagement and Sport sector at the Department of Community Development. He said a new manual of procedures has been provided to all places of worship. Only the main prayers will allowed and all other activities remain suspended. Prayer times have been reduced to a maximum of one hour, while worshippers will need to maintain a two-metre distance.

Over 300,000 workers made aware of anti-Covid measures in Sharjah
More than 300,000 workers from about 6,000 companies are now better aware of anti-Covid measures, thanks to the campaign initiated by the Labour Standards Development Authority (LSDA) in Sharjah. The awareness drive was aimed at enhancing protection, health and safety procedures for workers, companies and employers in the industrial and commercial areas of the emirate. It is also aimed at controlling the spread of Covid-19 by improving health conditions, and precautionary measures in these areas. "We have been implementing the campaign and fixing awareness posters and roll-ups written in several languages at workers' accommodations, factories, restaurants shops and all utilities commonly used by workers," said Salem Yousef Al Qaseer, chairman of the LSDA.


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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