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Coronavirus news bulletin: 'Third stage' of vaccine trials in UAE; rapid testing for Abu Dhabi entry; deadline for visitors; IMF hails UAE's swift response

Ismail Sebugwaawo /Abu Dhabi
ismail@khaleejtimes.com Filed on July 14, 2020
uae, coronavirus, covid-19, rapid testing, screening

(QuantLase)

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:

'Third stage' of Covid-19 vaccine trials underway in UAE
The UAE's healthcare sector has moved on to the third stage of Covid-19 vaccine research and clinical trials, a UAE minister has announced. If it proves to be effective, "we will move on to mass production of the vaccine", said Abdul Rahman Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention. This came as the minister addressed a virtual briefing on Monday. He revealed that a research will be conducted on two types of vaccinations in the third phase. "We have more than 15,000 volunteers for the study and trials. All conditions and requirements for the safety of volunteers have been met," the health minister said. "We will follow best global standards for the research." The UAE had earlier announced that it had started phase 3 clinical trial of a Covid-19 vaccine that is expected to be available by the end of 2020 or early 2021. Al Owais also announced that the UAE has conducted over 4 million Covid-19 tests.

Sheikh Mohamed, Greek PM discuss coronavirus and bilateral relations
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, on Monday received a telephone call from Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister of Greece. They discussed ways to enhance bilateral relations and cooperation for the benefit of the two friendly countries, as well as details of the Emirati-Greek Strategic Forum, scheduled to be held later this month. The pair also reviewed the coronavirus pandemic and global efforts to contain it. The Greek Prime Minister thanked the UAE for providing medical aid to his country to combat the pandemic and expressed his appreciation for the UAE's humanitarian role in addressing its overall effects.

UAE reports 344 new Covid-19 cases, 373 recoveries
The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Monday reported 344 new cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, along with 373 recoveries. While Covid-19 is raging across the world and cases have crossed the 13 million mark, the UAE is showing the way in the fight against the pandemic through its proactive steps. The UAE has introduced one of the world's most comprehensive testing and tracing regimes early on. With accelerated mass testing, the country has managed to carry out around four million Covid-19 tests in record time. Looking to perform another two million more tests in next two months, the country is on its way to achieving yet another milestone.

'Signs of progress' in Abu Dhabi as it prepares to receive tourists
Abu Dhabi is seeing "signs of progress" within the tourism sector as the emirate prepares to gradually open up to international travel. According to the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (DCT-Abu Dhabi), hotel occupancy rates in the capital "have risen by 3 per cent year-on-year since July 1". They are expected to rise further with the launch of a number of initiatives within the emirate aimed at boosting the sector. The UAE government has received global praise for its response in containing the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as for how it has proactively managed its social and economic impact. "The local government in Abu Dhabi, in turn, has relentlessly increased testing for Covid-19, and implemented strict measures," the authority said. These measures have resulted in cases dipping to less than 1 per cent in Abu Dhabi City.

Abu Dhabi adopts new device to identify Covid-19
The UAE's Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) is using a new device to conduct mass screening of Covid-19 cases. The device, which has been developed by the Abu Dhabi-based QuantLase Imaging Lab, uses a laser-based DPI technique which can detect virus-caused inflammation in blood samples within seconds. Announced by Abu Dhabi Media Office in the early hours of Tuesday morning, the device will help limit the number of individuals undergoing the PCR test as it identifies potential Covid-19 cases.

Rapid coronavirus screening facility for people entering Abu Dhabi
A rapid-testing facility for the coronavirus, which produces results within five minutes, has been opened up in Abu Dhabi to screen people entering the emirate without a Covid-negative-result. The facilty, which operates in a tent, was launched on Sunday. It is located near the last exit of the Sheikh Zayed Road (Dubai-Abu Dhabi road) before the Ghantoot border check point. The Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee and the Department of Health said they have implemented the laser-based DPI technique to facilitate entry into the emirate. "Travellers to the Emirate of Abu Dhabi can be screened for COVID-19 upon entry by a laser-based DPI technique. A negative result will allow entry to Abu Dhabi, while a positive result will lead to further testing through a PCR test," said a statement issued by the Abu Dhabi Media Office on Tuesday morning.

IMF hails UAE's swiftness in containing coronavirus
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Monday hailed the UAE's swift response to contain the spread of coronavirus, as well as its efforts to deploy new-age technologies such as virtual doctors and sanitising robots to contain the pandemic. Addressing a virtual Press conference, Jihad Azour, IMF director of its Middle East and Central Asia Department, said: "The UAE economy was affected by double-whammy of the coronavirus shock and oil price drop. The positive element comes from the fact that the authorities reacted very quickly and swiftly in addressing coronavirus and introduced pioneer measures by increasing the number of testing and introducing new technology as ways and means to contain spread of the virus."

UAE visit visa-holders have one month to leave or change status
Tourists in the UAE whose visit visas had expired after March 1 are given one month to leave the country or change their visa status to avoid fines, the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) announced on Monday. The one-month window started on July 12, Brig Khamis Al Kaabi, spokesperson of the ICA, said in a TV interview. The advisory follows the recent UAE Cabinet decision that cancelled all previously issued resolutions related to the residency of expatriates and validity of visas, entry permits and ID cards. The automatic extension of expired visas and IDs until December this year was withdrawn.

Children under 12 unable to fly back alone to UAE from India
The UAE-based parents of children under 12 stranded in India are in a tight spot with multiple airlines refusing to accept unaccompanied minors. Starting July 12, Indians wanting to return to the UAE have been given a 15-day window to travel back on the condition that they have valid residency permits. They also have to produce a negative Covid-19 test result. But parents of minors said they are feeling helpless as children are unable to avail of the travel opportunity despite having return permits. "It has been more than three months since my daughter has been stuck in India. We have GDRFA approval for her but the airlines are not accepting her booking, saying she is under 12," Poonam Sapre, a Dubai-based mother, told Khaleej Times.


Ismail Sebugwaawo


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