UAE on road to sustainable recovery from pandemic

File photo
File photo

The test, treat and vaccinate strategy has been the bulwark of the UAE model to combat the pandemic and it still holds good.

Published: Sun 17 Oct 2021, 11:10 PM

When the pandemic hit last year, the world came crashing down for countries, communities, businesses and individuals. There was no sight of a vaccine or a cure, hospitals were packed to capacity, lockdowns and curfews were imposed, movement was restricted. The life people once knew of came to a sudden halt. This is a pandemic, a global crisis, the WHO said in March.

Many could not even comprehend the nature of the pathogen and the extent of the damage it had caused to humanity. Looking back, some might say technology saved the day as remote work kicked in but there are several interpretations of the dire situation humans found themselves in.

A coronavirus whose origins were unknown was a threat to humanity and its progress (the debate is still raging on its origins: was it natural or was it a leak from a biological laboratory conducting research into deadly pathogens?).

Some countries like New Zealand chose to shut themselves out completely in a bid to bring cases down to zero while others like Sweden chose to risk it through herd immunity without a vaccine and saw cases surge.

Others like the UAE took the middle path focused on an early recovery even while waiting for preventive jab. Experts saw virtue in all three cases, but it was only the UAE that was seriously looking at getting ahead of the pathogen while returning to business and normal life. Living with the pathogen would mean people making some sacrifices after three horrendous months of being stranded at home in April, May and June of 2020.

Life had to go on, the authorities concluded, and the sooner people return to what appeared like normal activity, the better it would be for the economy and the country as a whole. Delaying a return to work and public activity would have risked crashing the economy. A gradual reopening was, therefore, implemented, with people slowly returning to work and limited form of activity in the open.

Cases still remained high but the health system was able to cope in those early months of the phased reopening. Hospitals could handle the flow of patients and medical supplies and facilities were ramped up to deal with emergencies. All this was happening while vaccines were being developed, and the UAE was quick to roll out the first jabs that were available to its residents in December.

The rest, as they say, is history. Though cases rose early this year as tourism rebounded, the health system never buckled as panic-mongers claimed the UAE model to contain the pandemic had failed. The test, treat and vaccinate strategy has been the bulwark of the UAE model to combat the pandemic and it still holds good as cases in the country dropped below 100 for the first time in 18 months. Relief and pride are the dominant emotions in this new phase of recovery.

The people of the UAE have been through the worst of times. It’s now up to them to bring cases down further by making lifestyle changes and ensuring the recovery is sustainable.

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