Covid-19: Today's wrap - Sanitisers recalled; jail term, fine for intentionally spreading virus
Here's a round-up of all the latest developments you need to be aware of.
A round-up of major developments related to Covid-19 across the country.
Schools have the right to suspend the distance learning programmes of students whose parents do not comply with 'agreeable' payment plans set by schools.
This is in line with the latest circular issued to all schools by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).
According to the circular, schools have the right to withhold distance learning provision for students whose parents have not paid fees, nor come to a payment agreement with schools.
Dr Farida Al Hosani, Director of Communicable Diseases at the Department of Health in Abu Dhabi and the official spokesperson for the health sector in the UAE said in a virtual press briefing that the UAE continues with all efforts to contain and combat the spread of coronavirus in the country.
"Within 14 days we have built the biggest testing lab outside China to test samples of coronavirus taken from people," she said.
"The main goal is to quicken the testing process as this facility can test thousands of samples a day."
She said the country has also launched a new platform to help provide all information about Covid-19.
Anyone deliberately spreading coronavirus or failing to report a suspected or positive Covid-19 case will face hefty fines and jail, the authorities have warned as they step up measures to contain the pandemic.
For intentionally spreading the infection, the penalty is up to five years in prison and/or a fine not less than Dh50,000 and not more than Dh100,000. For not reporting a case, the violator will face three years in jail and/or a fine not exceeding Dh10,000, the legal experts have pointed out.
Following the decision of health authorities to recall a few brands of hand sanitisers from the market, UAE's leading retail business Lulu Group has decided to provide refunds to anyone bringing back the product to the stores.
A Lulu Group official confirmed to Khaleej Times that all recalled variants of the hand sanitizers have been removed from its stores. "We will refund anyone bringing back this particular product to our stores," said Nandakumar V, head of marketing and communications, Lulu Group International.
Health authorities in Abu Dhabi and Dubai Municipality have recalled several hand sanitisers products from markets in Abu Dhabi and Dubai due to non-conformity to international quality standards as of March 30.
The Dubai Municipality withdrew six types of hand sanitisers that were proved non-compliant with the approved specifications, against the backdrop of an intensive inspection campaign to verify the safety of antimicrobial products, including hand sanitizers circulating in the local market.
A total of 102 samples of different sizes were taken from the products circulated in the market for the purpose of conformity tests and laboratory analysis. The tests showed that six samples did not comply with the approved specifications due to the presence of methanol, which is a colorless liquid with a pungent odor used as a solvent.
It is highly toxic and hazardous to human health, and affects the nervous system, causes dizziness, headache, irritation of the skin and respiratory system, and causes blindness in severe poisoning cases.
A new laboratory capable of handling tens of thousands of tests per day has been set up in the UAE.
The laboratory, located in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, was built and operationalised in only 14 days, providing an immediate solution to the Covid-19 coronavirus testing needs in the UAE.
Group 42 (G42), a technology company based in Abu Dhabi, and global genomics leader BGI, announced on Tuesday the launch of this new massive throughput laboratory.
The lab is capable of conducting tens of thousands real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests per day and is the first in the world of this scale to be operational outside of China.
Tasheel centres to be closed from April 2
All Tasheel centres across the country will be temporarily shut from Thursday (April 2), the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) said. There are 2,200 Tasheel centres across the UAE serving the needs of employers and workers.
"In line with the directives of our government and as part of the precautionary measures taken to protect you, we are sorry to announce that Tasheel centres will be closed to customers from Thursday until April 16," the ministry said. Also, Tawafouq, Tawjeeh and Tadbeer centres will be closed from Thursday until April 16.
Night permits for movement suspended
The Ministry of Interior has suspended the requirement of carrying a move permit for residents who need to step out for emergencies during the National Sterilisation Programme hours. The nation-wide disinfection programme is carried out from 8pm to 6am and will be on till April 5.
During these hours, residents aren't allowed to step out from their homes unless it is for buying essentials or medical emergencies or for doing a vital sector job. The ministry said the requirement was suspended because of the commitment of residents to the curfew hours. It appealed to residents to #StayHome, stressing that the authorities concerned will check for IDs of those found outside during the sterilisation hours.
Rent, fine waivers in Sharjah
A total of 100 prisoners at the Sharjah Punitive and Reformatory Establishments who were jailed for failing to settle their rent for their residential or commercial units at Sharjah will be released immediately, following decision of issued by Sharjah Executive Council.
The decision was made as part of the Sharjah government's 47-point stimulus package incentive to support governmental and private entities, business sectors and individuals during this difficult period. Other initiatives include a 50 per cent discount on traffic violations and cancellation of black points committed before March 31, for a period of three months, from April 1.
Labourers to be screened twice
Labourers at accommodations across the country are being screened twice a day as part of the precautionary measures taken by the UAE to curb the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus according to a ministerial resolution issued on March 29. "The resolution number 281 issued by the ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation in Abu Dhabi stated that screening points at entrances of labour accommodations must be provided," said Emirati lawyer Awatif Mohammed Khouri of Al Rowaad Advocates.
"This move is to check temperature and other symptoms of the virus twice a day -- in the morning before workers leave, and once again upon their return to the accommodation," Khouri noted.
Circular on calls, social media being monitored is fake
The Community Development Authority (CDA) has denied a rumour being circulated on social media platforms, which falsely claimed there would be communication regulations in the UAE in the wake of the Covid-19 fear.
"The CDA calls on the public to be cautious and not to publish or exchange unreliable information and refer to the responsible sources for obtaining the correct information to avoid accountability and violate applicable legislation," a statement from the authority said. A message that went viral and falsely attributed to the CDA said all phone calls will be recorded and social media communication, including on WhatsApp and Facebook, will be monitored.
Education group waives transportation fees
UAE-based Pace Education Group has waived off transport fees, with education having gone online. The group operates six schools in the country. As Khaleej Times reported earlier this week, parents had raised concerns about paying transportation and uniform fees in addition to full tuition fees.
Students across the country are continuing their education via e-learning as actual classes remain suspended as a precautionary measure against the spread of Covid-19. Dr P. A. Ibrahim, Pace group chairman, said the move would reduce the burden on parents "during these trying times of Covid-19". Earlier this week, the Emirates National Schools board of directors exempted parents from paying transportation and nutrition fees.
Free taxi service for Abu Dhabi retailers
The transport authority in Abu Dhabi is offering its taxi services for free to support retail outlets, who are struggling to cope with the exceptionally high number of requests for home deliveries. The service in the wake of the Covid-19 coronavirus impact is free and no taxi bill will be charged from the customers either. "The initiative is concerned with providing a delivery services to the public by making the taxis available to all sales outlets within Abu Dhabi." Items purchased will be collected from sales points and delivered to customers. The drivers are well trained about preventive measures and wear masks and gloves during the delivery process," the Integrated Transport Centre (ITC) of the Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT) said. All retail outlets can use Abu Dhabi Taxi app to benefit from this service by registering on 600535353.
Smart disinfection gate set up in Abu Dhabi
A smart disinfection gate where all passengers go through to ensure that they are free from symptoms of coronavirus has been installed at the Abu Dhabi main bus terminal. The Integrated Transport Centre (ITC) of the Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT) in Abu Dhabi said on Tuesday that it has installed the disinfection gate at the entrance of Abu Dhabi main bus station. The gate detects entering passengers and sprays sterilising materials automatically to ensure the public's safety. It operates every day from 6pm to 8pm and is sterilised and cleaned regularly by a specialised team.
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