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Coronavirus news bulletin: UAE's stem cell therapy proven effective; free Covid tests in Sharjah; UAE visa amnesty; Abu Dhabi extends travel ban

Ismail Sebugwaawo /Abu Dhabi
ismail@khaleejtimes.com Filed on June 9, 2020
uae covid-19 treatment, stem cell therapy, coronavirus

(Wam file)

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:

Abu Dhabi extends travel ban for one week, starting June 9
The movement restrictions on entering and exiting Abu Dhabi and travelling between its regions has been extended for another one week starting from June 9, authorities have announced. The movement restrictions had begun on June 2 to ensure mass Covid-19 testing in order to contain the spread of the virus. The ban was meant to last for a week. But on Monday evening, the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Committee for the Covid-19 Pandemic in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Police and the Abu Dhabi Department of Health (DoH) decided to to extend the ban for another seven days. "The ban covers movements between Abu Dhabi's regions (Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Dhafrah) as well as in and out of the emirate. It applies to all Abu Dhabi residents, including UAE Nationals," the Abu Dhabi Media Office said on Twitter.

UAE's stem cell therapy proven effective as add-on Covid-19 cure

The UAE's stem cell treatment for Covid-19 infections has been proven to be effective and safe as an add-on to standard care, the Abu Dhabi Stem Cell Centre (ADSCC) announced on Monday.
Initial results from the treatment - administered to 73 Covid-19 patients with moderate to severe symptoms - were promising, with all patients responding well, demonstrating that it was well tolerated. However, researchers stressed at the time that the results were preliminary and further analysis of the data was needed.

UAE reports 568 new Covid-19 cases, 469 recoveries
The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Monday reported 568 new cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, along with 469 new recoveries. This has bought the total number of cases to 39, 376 in the country and the total number of recoveries to 22,275. The authority also announced 5 deaths in the country as a result of Covid-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 281. The number of active coronavirus cases in the country has reached 16,820. The ministry wished a speedy recovery to all patients, calling on the public to abide by the precautionary measures in place and follow all necessary medical advice in order to avoid more infections. On Saturday, the UAE government announced that its health entities have crossed a new milestone of 2.5 million tests for Covid-19 in the country.
 
Hiring in UAE could pick up after September, say consultants
Majority of companies in the UAE will be adopting wait-and-watch approach for new recruitment, however the activity could pick up after the summer, say consultants. "As organisations will look to hire post-summer from September, the flexible transfers do help but in vast majority of the cases, entities are going to 'wait and watch' before normal hiring activity starts," according to Vijay Gandhi, regional director, Korn Ferry. He noted that more jobs have been advertised and recruitment activity is picking up. However, the decision to hire is taking longer and job creation is taking 4-6 weeks from interview selection compared to 4-6 days in the past due to changes in work culture due to coronavirus Covid-19. The new normalcy is returning in the country with economy opening up and firms going back to work 100 per cent. However, the full impact of jobs will be visible during the summer, depending on the recovery to the new normal.

Husband of pregnant woman who filed India repatriation petition dies in Dubai
A Dubai-based Indian expat who had filed a repatriation petition to the Supreme Court of India to fly his pregnant wife to Kerala, India has died in his sleep, according to close friends and relatives. Twenty-nine-year-old Nithin Chandran, a construction sector employee in Dubai, passed away early morning on Monday, June 8, according to close friends and volunteers of INCAS Youth Wing, a community group where Nithin was an active member. Though a death notification is yet to be issued, it is suspected that Nithin may have suffered a heart attack, as he had a history of heart disease, according to his friends. Chandran's wife Athira Geetha Sreedharan (27) was on the first Vande Bharat Mission flight from Dubai to Kozhikode, which flew out on May 7. The couple gained much attention from the media after Athira filed a writ petition to India's apex court, seeking help to return home to deliver the couple's first baby.
 
UAE Cabinet takes more steps to ease Covid-19 burden
The UAE Cabinet adopted several decisions related to improving the work of the federal government, supporting various national sectors in minimising the effects of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, and facilitating their services provided to the public during the current crisis. The cabinet adopted a decision to exempt Hajj and Umrah-related businesses from licence renewal fees from March 2020 to December 2020, and the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments will extend the validity of expired licences until this period. The decision aims to reduce the burdens on the owners of Hajj and Umrah operators and implement the country's policy related to the measures that aim to reduce the negative effects on the national economy of the current crisis.
 
Government weighs all options on reopening schools in UAE
Schools across the UAE will reopen on August 30, although the decision to welcome students to campuses is still under review. Dubai's private school regulator Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) said the final decision will be taken by the federal government. The KHDA said: "Schools are currently scheduled to open in September, though it is still unknown what form this will take or whether that will change. We are working closely with our colleagues in the federal government so that when a decision is made, it will be applicable to all schools in the UAE. We all hope to get schools open to students again as soon as it's safe to do so."
 
Cameras to check if you are following Covid-19 guidelines in Dubai
A technology to use existing CCTV camera feeds to check whether people are violating the Covid-19 coronavirus preventive guidelines has been rolled out in Dubai. Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA) has partnered with Derq, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) spinoff, to deploy the Artificial Intelligence (AI) based solution. Deploying Derq's algorithms, the solution uses camera feeds to monitor whether people are violating safety guidelines, including social distancing requirements, wearing of facemasks, and observance of occupancy requirements focused on ensuring safety. Feeds from CCTV and other security cameras in community spaces that face high risk of Covid-19 transmissions are analysed in real time to detect and report any violation that could cause harm to the broader community.
 
New helpline: Dial 909 in Abu Dhabi to report Covid-19 case
Now, residents in Abu Dhabi can call cops on the hotline 909 to report a Covid-19 case and help bring patients to medical facilities. The new helpline will connect callers to the Abu Dhabi Police's operations centre in Musaffah area that is primarily dedicated to concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic. Supporting efforts to fight the spread of Covid-19, the centre handles enquiries and reports about cases of infection, especially at workers' accommodations. It seeks to help workers in Musaffah get the assistance they need amid the situation. First Col Fadel Ghadier Al Shamsi, director of the Musaffah Police Station, said the centre operates round the clock, ready to answer all incoming calls from individual callers, companies and accommodations. "It is staffed with an interpreter who can respond to callers of Asian nationalities. Cases of coronavirus shall be transported in ambulances," he said.
 
Pay teachers' salaries in full, refund deductions, Sharjah schools told
Private schools in Sharjah have been ordered to pay teachers' salaries in full and any reductions made during the Covid-19 period should be given back to them, the emirate's education authority said on Monday. All requests to slash wages of teaching staff for academic year 2019-2020 have also been rejected, according to an official of the Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA). In a circular sent to school administrations, the SPEA said those that have implemented pay cuts will be given five working days - from the date of the decision - to return the unpaid salaries. Any action to reduce wages should be cancelled, it added. Legal action shall be taken against school managements that would fail to comply with the decision, the SPEA has warned. The official explained that as parents remain committed to paying fees and schools ensure the continuity of the distance learning system, teachers must be paid in full.
 
Dubai poll to assess Covid-19 impact on citizens, residents
The Community Development Authority (CDA) in Dubai in collaboration with The Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG) has launched an opinion poll to measure the current and expected impact of the Corona pandemic on the social and living conditions of the emirate's citizens and residents. The poll aims to identify the new social needs of individuals, families and owners of small and medium enterprises, in order to provide solutions and develop programs to meet these needs. The CDA called on the citizens and residents in Dubai to participate in the survey and share their views that will have important impact in taking measures and procedures to enhance the safety and welfare of the society, and ease the challenges of its members from the Emiratis and residents at the present time.
 
Exit UAE by Aug 18 without paying penalty if visa has expired before March 1
People with visas that expired before March 1 can leave the country without penalties until August, a senior immigration official has said. During a remote Press briefing held on Monday, Major-General Saeed Rakan Al Rashidi, director-general of the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (Faic), said the amnesty scheme - which began on May 18 and will run until August 18 - will waive all overstay fines, provided the violators leave the country. "The amnesty applies to people who have been illegally staying in the country after their visas - visit, tourist or residency - expired before March 1." For UAE residents whose visas expired during the Covid-19 outbreak, their documents will remain valid until December 31. People on visit and tourist visas that expired after March 1 can also continue to stay in the UAE until December 31 without facing fines.
 
UAE ministry allocates 15 medical centres for pregnant women
Fifteen medical centres across the country have been allocated to pregnant women, reducing their risk of getting exposed to the Covid-19 virus as they go for their health checks, the Ministry of Health and Prevention has announced. Each emirate will have specific centres where stringent safety measures will be implemented, the ministry added. Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah will each have four centres for pregnant women, while Ajman will have two. A hospital in Umm Al Quwain will also be identified, reports said. Those in Dubai may visit the family medical centre to be allocated in Sharjah. The ministry advised expectant mothers to continue their check-ups to stay healthy amid the pandemic situation. In case of emergencies, they must seek medical care immediately, it added.
 
Grade 12 exam dates for UAE public, private schools issued
The UAE Ministry of Education has announced the final exams schedule, taking place from June 21 to 29, for grade 12 students. In a statement, the ministry noted that 12th-grade students across public and private schools that apply the ministry's curriculum would undertake final examinations for general and advanced tracks, as well as academic and home study. The Ministry of Education went on to say that exams would be held via distance-learning modes and systems (amid the coronavirus Covid-19 situation). Students will sit their first exam - the physics paper - on June 21. The following day (June 22) students will take their social studies exam, followed by their Arabic language exam on June 23.
 
UAE-based university to produce face shields, mask clips
Face shields and mask clips production will see a boost in the emirate as the Abu Dhabi University (ADU) has teamed up with Exxon Al Khalij (ExxonMobil). "This partnership underscores the vital corporate social responsibility of the private sector across all domains. Through this collaboration, we strive to reinforce efforts in combating this global pandemic, using all resources and capabilities available, and boosting the production of the face shields, which will be provided to hospitals in Abu Dhabi," said Professor Waqar Ahmad, ADU chancellor. The university's engineering department had come up with a modified design for the face shield by laser cutting polyethylene material that is more comfortable for use for first responders. The final prototype took two days to create, including the initial blueprint design that was created by modifying an existing design in order to accommodate the comfort factor as well as the time required to manufacture and assemble the parts.
 
Free Covid-19 tests for all Sharjah government employees
All Sharjah government employees are getting tested for Covid-19 for free before returning back to offices, according to a statement by the Sharjah Directorate of Human Resources. The testing will be conducted in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and Prevention through the Sharjah Medical District and will cover all Emirati and resident employees set to return to offices. They will be examined in a dedicated screening facility already established at the premises of the Sharjah Chess Club for this purpose.

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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