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Coronavirus news bulletin: UAE records highest-ever cases; docs urge caution

ismail@khaleejtimes.com Filed on October 18, 2020
UAE coronavirus , Covid-19, China, warning, Coronavirus outbreak, lockdown, pandemic, Dubai, new cases, Covid-19 death, recoveries

A round-up of major developments related to Covid-19 across the country.

Here's a round-up of all the latest Covid-19 developments you need to know:

UAE reports 1,538 Covid-19 cases, 1,411 recoveries, 4 deaths 

The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Saturday reported 1,538 cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, along with 1,411 recoveries. Four deaths were also recorded. Additional 130,567 tests were carried out, the ministry added. The UAE has conducted more than 11.44 million tests till date as part of the country's massive screening programmes to combat the spread of Covid-19. As the UAE leads global efforts in developing a Covid-19 vaccine, thousands of its residents and citizens have already taken a jab - either as clinical trial volunteers or frontliners. According to the latest study published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, BBIBP-CorV vaccine for Covid-19, which is currently undergoing phase 3 trials in the UAE, was found to be safe and had produced an immune response in Phase I and II trials.

UAE's youth minister receives Covid-19 vaccine shot 

Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth Development in UAE, has been added to the list of ministers receiving the Covid-19 vaccine in the country. The minister posted a picture of herself receiving the vaccine on her official Instagram account, while praising the nurse who who administered it to her. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, also received a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on Friday, October 16. "Corona vaccination is our way to return to normal life," Sheikh Abdullah said in a post shared on his official Twitter account. In the photo, a healthcare worker is seen injecting the vaccine into the arm of the minister.

AI-powered e-learning platform in all UAE public schools soon 

A digital learning platform powered by artificial intelligence (AI) will be implemented in all public schools in the UAE, the Ministry of Education (MoE) has announced. The Alef platform will help the ministry "achieve its goals of developing a digital education system capable of adapting to all possible changes caused due to the Covid-19 pandemic". It will "turn the challenges faced in distance learning into promising opportunities", the ministry said. The platform will be launched in 196 schools in Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah in phases by December 2020. "The initiative aims at providing the UAE's educational system with the latest innovations in digital education including AI and big data," the MoE said.

Covid-19 vaccine hopes rise, but UAE residents should play safe 

Even as doctors in the UAE pin hopes on two Covid-19 vaccines being trialled in the country, they have cautioned residents against relying solely on them. It will take time for the masses to get immunised if and when a vaccine is approved, they said, urging residents to not lower their guards. Dr Dirar Abdallah, consultant internal medicine and chair of medicine, Prime Hospital, Dubai, explained: "Even when the vaccine does come, I don't think these (safety precautionary) instructions (against the spread of Covid-19) will change for a long time. We will have to continue to follow those until most of the community is immunised by the vaccine. So up until that time - which will easily be a year or two from now - we should be mindful of the fact that the virus is around us."

22,000 fined in Sharjah labour housing areas for flouting Covid-19 rules 

The Sharjah Police have recorded close to 22,000 violations of Covid-19 safety rules at labour accommodations in over four months, it was announced on Saturday. The police's Labour Accommodation Inspection Committee spotted the violations during inspection campaigns at labour accommodations in different parts of the emirate. Brigadier Dr Ahmed Saeed Al Naour, Director-General of Central Operations, Sharjah Police, and Chairman of the Executive Committee for Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Management in the emirate, noted that the inspection teams have recorded 21,959 violations between May 20 and October 1. He added that 6,959 violations were reported from the industrial areas.

558 Pakistanis on visit visa repatriated from UAE 

More than 550 Pakistani passengers in the UAE have been repatriated in the past three days after they were not able to meet the minimum entry criteria set by the authorities for visit visa holders. According to the Consulate General of Pakistan, Dubai, a total of 678 Pakistani citizens have been denied entry into the UAE for the non-compliance. Dubai authorities made it mandatory on Wednesday for all the people holding visitor visa to have Dh2,000 cash, return air ticket and hotel booking to enter the country. Those tourists who are going to stay with friends and relatives are required to provide accurate residential address and other relevant information about their hosts.

Handling job insecurity during the Covid-19 era 

As the Covid-19 outbreak takes a toll on mental health globally, experts at the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) shared some advice on how to cope with stress. While the world has now come to terms with the pandemic situation, carrying forward with a healthy state of mind is a priority, the DHA said. Dr Khawla Ahmed Al Mir, consultant psychiatrist at Rashid Hospital, said: "The initial shock period is over and we are clearly in the adjustment phase. We need to learn to live with the current realities, we need to adapt in order to stay fit mentally." In the current situation, there are some stress triggers that cannot be changed, such as job insecurities, Mir said. "So, it is important to remember that we should focus only on the things that we can change and we should not stress about the things that are beyond our control.

The second wave of Covid-19 is real. Let's not dismiss it as flu 

The Covid-19 pandemic has been raging for almost ten months now. More than a million lives have been lost, and close to 40 million people infected. Can we still call it a hoax, or dismiss it as a mere flu as some political leaders have been suggesting? Our collective failure to give this new viral infection the seriousness it deserves has pushed a number of countries to the edge of a colossal economic and social loss. Even if we defeat the virus, or build anti-bodies or immunity against it which could take another several months, the impact of this pandemic will be felt for years to come. What's amply clear thus far is that we the people haven't been able to make realistic trade-offs or sacrifices that were critical in taming the rising infections. 

author

Ismail Sebugwaawo

A professional journalist originating from Kampala, Uganda, Ismail is a happy father with strong attachment to family and great values for humanity. He has practiced journalism in UAE for the past 13 years, covering the country's parliament (FNC) and crimes, including Abu Dhabi Police, public prosecution and courts. He also reports about important issues in education, public health and the environment, with a keen interest in human interest stories. When out of reporting duties, he serves the Ugandan community in Abu Dhabi as he wants to see his countrymen happy. Exercising and reading are part of his free time.


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