Covid-19 in UAE: How to stay safe this Eid Al Adha
N95 masks must be used for protection against Delta, other variants.
With an almost week-long public holiday from Monday, experts have warned people to maintain Covid-safety measures to avoid a sharp spike in infections, as seen after previous celebrations.
Medical experts have urged people to consider double masking or using N95 masks to protect against newer variants of Covid-19 when visiting crowded places.
During the Eid Al Adha holidays, residents are all set for outings and parties with family and friends. As a stark reminder, health authorities revealed shocking data on the massive surge in caseloads after previous festive celebrations. And this time around there is a contagious Delta in the mix as a variant of concern, which is highly transmissible and can cause substantial health complications.
Dr Celia Antony, general medicine, Aster Clinic – King Faizal, Sharjah, noted that there has normally been a big surge in Covid infections after long public holidays. She urged residents to take extra precautions as the Delta variant is deadly.
“A recent study by the UK’s Cambridge University Hospitals National Health Service Foundation Trust has shown that a FFP3 mask with three layers of protection can filter out 99 per cent of airborne particles. But these masks are not easily available. Currently, the best available option is double masking. A well fitted surgical mask covered by a cloth mask can filter out 95 per cent of air borne particles,” she said.
The UAE leads in vaccination rate and people do feel confident to travel and holiday. However, the UAE experts, citing reports and guidelines issued by top US and UK healthcare providers, noted that by having extra layers on masks they will be more protected against the dangerous variant.
Dr Maisaa Al Sulaiman, specialist family medicine, at Burjeel Specialty Hospital, Sharjah, also said heavy-duty masks are the way to go.
“Double masking is an effective strategy to protect oneself from the new variants. According to a report by the US’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, double masking can reduce exposure by more than 95 per cent. Wearing a surgical mask layered with a well-fitted cloth mask on top can create a strong barrier against Covid -19. Alternatively, the N-95 mask also offers good protection.”
Dr Pavan Shrivastava, consultant internal medicine, NMC Specialty Hospital, Al Nahda, Dubai, pointed out that people must wear masks properly and tightly. “People must wear a mask with two or more layers to stop the spread of Covid-19, especially when you are going to crowded places.
Double-layer masks give more protection. Wear masks properly over your nose and mouth,” he said.
Doctors stressed on responsible celebrations, following the set safety protocols of safe distancing, frequent hand washing and use of sanitisers, avoiding crowded places and poorly-ventilated areas, which remain the key factors in preventing the different strains of the virus.
Dr Al Sulaiman said: “It is advisable to avoid gatherings and family meetups during this holiday. If at all, those gathering shall keep a check on numbers and be limited among those who are fully vaccinated. Pregnant women, children and those belonging to the high-risk group shall stay away from these meetings. Also, people should avoid handshakes and other physical gestures.”
Dr Shrivastava pointed out that the unvaccinated should opt for virtual celebrations.
“Those who are not vaccinated must get the shot. For any reason, if you are not able to take any vaccine then avoid gatherings and stay home. Have outdoor gatherings rather than indoors. Encourage guests to wear masks properly. If anyone develops any Covid symptoms get tested and isolate yourself till you receive a negative report.”
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