UAE: How to stay Covid-safe as summer travel opens up

Travellers are advised to do a routine PCR test before departure and after arrival



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File
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Nandini Sircar

Published: Mon 25 Jul 2022, 4:45 PM

Last updated: Tue 26 Jul 2022, 6:16 PM

Covid-19 re-infection is becoming increasingly common among residents as summer travel and pre-pandemic activities are rising, according to UAE doctors. Medical practitioners advise people on protecting themselves against the recent rise in positive cases.

Dr Sameh Elgouhari, Specialist internal medicine Prime healthcare group, says, “There is a surge in Covid infections all-over the world mostly due to continuous mutations or due to sub-variants which are now capable of evading immune systems causing re-infection even in immunised individuals but with milder forms.”

Elgouhari applauds the mass vaccinations and immunisation drive by the UAE's health authorities, which helped people survive the Covid waves and fight against the new sub-variants.

Dr Sameh Elgouhari
Dr Sameh Elgouhari

He explains Covid testing is still important if one feels unwell and observes any symptoms. This helps authorities to get early indicators of the disease, and preventive actions can be taken early to avoid the collapse of the health infrastructure.

He advised residents to wear well-fitted masks and sanitise hands regularly at airports and crowded places while travelling.

He adds, "During summer travel, it's of utmost importance to always wear masks at the airports and inside the flight to avoid mass infections. Sanitise with alcohol and wash your hands and follow sneezing protocol. Whenever visiting new countries, one should avoid crowded activities where social distancing is difficult, like night parties at clubs. Enjoy your summer in open spaces and in the beauty of nature."

Dr Roderic Fernando
Dr Roderic Fernando

Dr Roderic Fernando, Specialist Family Medicine, Al Futtaim Health - Health Hub, says, “There have been so many variants since the Covid pandemic started and we can expect more over the coming years due to the mutations they can undergo. Omicron Subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 have been reported to be affecting individuals who have been previously infected and fully immunised. However, the immunity derived from the vaccine will surely provide a certain amount of protection.”

Health professionals say common precautions such as hand hygiene, wearing a mask, and social distancing should be taken very seriously.

Dr Mohamed Elsayed Ramadan
Dr Mohamed Elsayed Ramadan

Dr Mohamed Elsayed Ramadan, Medical Director, Burjeel Farha Hospital, Al Ain, says, “You must maintain the same precautions directed by the health authorities. Currently, many people are travelling abroad. Eligible people should get a booster dose before travel.

"Also, it is advised to do a routine PCR test before departure and after arrival. If you have any symptoms, it is better to isolate yourself, do a PCR test, follow the doctor’s instructions, and avoid contact with elderly people or someone who is immunocompromised.” Ramadan adds.

Doctors emphasise regular testing is more important than ever before as immunity from vaccines recedes after a certain point of time.

Dr Jyothish George
Dr Jyothish George

Dr Jyothish George, specialist dermatologist, director, prime homecare services and vaccinations, says, “Immunity wanes after few months of the vaccine. Testing at a clinic is always good as it can help us to isolate at the right time and prevent others from getting infected.”

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He added, “New variants with immune escaping capability are due to emerge. Hence adequate protection is always safer and wiser. Even though testing may not be mandatory, if you have slight symptoms, it is advisable to test before travel to ensure the safety of other travellers."

It is also advised to avoid travelling immediately if one have come in close contact with a Covid positive person.


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