Covid-19: How the UAE overcame the worst of the pandemic

Dubai - The UAE is almost back to normal, with people back at their workplaces, kids back to school, and most venues operating under safety guidelines


James Jose

Published: Fri 3 Sep 2021, 10:41 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Sep 2021, 1:32 PM

As the clock ticks down, and Dubai and the UAE brace to welcome visitors at the world’s greatest show — Expo 2020 — in just about a month, it would perhaps be a good time to rewind and look back at that unusual image of Sheikh Zayed Road.

Eighteen months ago, on March 26, to be precise, the iconic road, which is the heartbeat of Dubai, was empty, with only street lights glistening on the asphalt. It was so empty that one could maybe hear the silence.

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As the world came to terms with a raging pandemic and tethered on the brink, the UAE waged an all-out battle against an unknown enemy. And it would be safe to say that it came out trumps, and with flying colours.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced that the worst of the pandemic had passed, as he chaired a recent Cabinet meeting in Qasr Al Watan on August 29.

“The UAE worked as one team during the pandemic, making the country among the best globally in the fight against Covid-19,” Sheikh Mohammed tweeted.

The fact that we are now almost back to how it once was, with people back at their workplaces, kids back to school, and most importantly, people finally able to live after undergoing tremendous stress during the pandemic, is all down to the exemplary way in which the UAE tackled the virus.

Not one to just sit back and witness things unfold, the UAE took the bull by the horns, quite literally, and embarked on a National Sterilisation Programme across the country. It was unprecedented, never seen before, but then, desperate times called for desperate measures.

Army of frontliners, drones

An army of frontliners, backed by the latest technology like drones, disinfected streets, each and every nook and corner, as well as the public transport system. The scenes were akin to going to war. It was.

The authorities couldn’t stress enough the importance of wearing masks, social distancing and employing the latest technology like thermal scanners to conduct temperature checks.

Mass testing was vital to weed out this menace, and the UAE was top on that front too. And at the heart of it all was the impeccable medical infrastructure, and whatever high praise one can shower on the frontliners — the doctors, nurses and the entire machinery — would be too little.

Apart from the existing hospitals, field hospitals and isolation centres were set up to provide top care to Covid-infected patients. Hotels, too, were transformed into isolation and treatment facilities.

In April last year, Sheikh Mohammed had posted a heart-warming, 71-second video on his official twitter handle about the global fight against the pandemic, making comparisons to sport with montage shots of the frontliners.

The voice over on the video said: “When in doubt, remember, the whole world is playing from one side. We are one team. This is our home ground, this is our World Cup, and we will win.”

Robust vaccination drive

Once the vaccines saw the light of day, the UAE pushed aggressively with a robust vaccination drive. But the most important thing was the people, who took responsibility, followed the rules and got themselves vaccinated. They realised we are in it together and we have to fight this together.

As of Thursday, September 2, the UAE had administered 18,305, 171 doses.

Now, the UAE can proudly say it is among the most vaccinated countries in the world, with close to 88 per cent of residents having received at least one dose of the vaccine, with 77 per cent having received both. And the UAE is well on course to vaccinating 100 per cent of residents before the year ends.

Zero deaths

Caseloads began to nose dive and also, on Thursday, the UAE reported zero deaths from Covid-19 complications after nearly 10 months. This made it the first day in 2021 that the country has seen no Covid-related deaths in 24 hours. The last time the country saw zero deaths from coronavirus was on November 14, 2020.

At 0.2 per cent, the UAE has among the lowest death rates from the virus. It is significantly less than the global average of just over 2 per cent.

The country witnessed a 62 per cent drop in daily Covid-19 cases in August, compared to January this year. On August 24, daily infections dipped below the 1,000 mark for the first time in eight months and have remained below 1,000 for the last 10 days.

The iconic Sheikh Zayed Road is now bustling with traffic, and we are up and running, but we must not let our guard down. Mask up because we are in it together.

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