The UAE’s police force have been playing a stellar role amid the raging Covid-19 pandemic.
The methodical approach in an unprecedented healthcare crisis has empowered the country’s response against Covid-19.
Over the months, the police, with their efficient, effective and tireless service, has won the hearts of the community members. The police personnel and the general public singing the national anthem together during the curfew hours of the National Disinfection Programme have been one of the defining moments of one of the worst years in the history of mankind.
First mission: UAE Tour episode
The UAE’s first encounter with the viral infection was in the last week of February, when two Italian cyclists competing in the UAE Tour had tested positive for Covid-19 in Abu Dhabi.
Major-General Maktoum Ali Al Shari , Director-General of Abu Dhabi Police, immediately took note of the alarming trend and formed a task force to deal with the situation. The team was expanded to include the traffic department, Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha), retailers, hospitality operators, municipalities and multiple government agencies. One of the first tasks was to turn the hotels, where the participating teams were staying, into quarantine centres. The police’s rapid response was key to containing the situation.
Screening measures at entry points
By the first week of March, pro-active measures were in place to screen passengers at airports and seaports in Dubai.
Major-General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, the Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police and Head of Dubai’s Crisis and Disaster Management Team, had announced that all authorities were working round the clock in coordination with the UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention and the Dubai Health Authority’s (DHA) medical team to ensure the highest levels of safety and protection for the public. The police also played a key role in the National Screening Project. Officers were stationed at the entry points to Abu Dhabi in a bid to ensure only people with a negative Covid-19 test report were allowed to enter the emirate.
National Disinfection Programme
From March 26, the Ministry of Health and Prevention and the Ministry of Interior launched the massive National Disinfection Programme. The police were mandated to ensure restrictions on the movement of traffic and public between 8pm and 6am. The Dubai and Sharjah Police authorities used drones to ensure full compliance with decisions. The Dubai Police launched a ‘Stay Safe’ video
game to educate children and youngsters. The Abu Dhabi Police started a campaign to disinfect Covid-19 ambulances and non-emergency transport vehicles.
K9 sniffer dogs detect Covid-19 cases
K9 sniffer dogs were successfully deployed across airports in the UAE, as an additional line of defence in detecting presumed Covid-19 cases. The UAE is considered the first country in the world to put this method into action, which is still being studied and at a pilot stage in several countries. Abu Dhabi Police launched a medical transportation system with an air ambulance via a capsule that incubates infectious diseases through an integrated isolation system to transport such patients.
Cohesive efforts across emirates
The Dubai and Sharjah Police authorities allowed remote e-visits for inmates and their families in the UAE and abroad.
Ajman Police, in cooperation with Ajman Bank, adopted a remote money deposit system for local inmates. The Sharjah Police General Command launched a hotline and a package of services for the staff in the healthcare sector.
Other services continued in tandem
Police call centres kept fielding millions of calls on its emergency and non-emergency hotline numbers. With e-learning being implemented at schools, the police urged parents to monitor their children’s usage on the internet and social media. Timely alerts through social media platforms were made to create awareness about the dangers of leaving children alone in swimming pools, protecting children from online bullying, and warnings against dumping used face masks and gloves on the road.
Don’t let their sacrifices go in vain
There were officers who got infected with SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease, in the past few months. Colonel Mohammed Al Khoury, Deputy of the Capital Police Department, Abu Dhabi Police, who was at the forefront from February, was one of them. Contracting Covid-19 was not the biggest challenge for Colonel Al Khoury, as his work had also kept him away from his loved ones.
“In the first two months of the viral outbreak, I didn’t get to see my family. I would work and get home late and see my wife for five minutes, then I had to go to sleep,” he recounted. Colonel Al Khoury praised the work of the Frontline Heroes Office, which supports those who put themselves on the frontline against the Covid-19 pandemic.