Sheikh Mohamed's 'Don’t worry' motivated this Abu Dhabi cop to fight Covid-19

Colonel Mohammed Al Khoury, Deputy of the Capital Police Department, Abu Dhabi Police.  - Supplied Photo
Colonel Mohammed Al Khoury, Deputy of the Capital Police Department, Abu Dhabi Police. - Supplied Photo

Dubai - Abu Dhabi cop beat Covid, stayed away from his family for two months to help battle the pandemic.

By Staff Report

Published: Tue 15 Dec 2020, 11:22 AM

Last updated: Tue 15 Dec 2020, 3:22 PM

A simple 'Don’t worry' from His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, helped a top Abu Dhabi Police officer beat Covid-19.

Colonel Mohammed Al Khoury, Deputy of the Capital Police Department, recovered from the disease and then resumed his duty on the frontlines in the war against Covid-19.

In a video shared by the Frontline Heroes Office, the officer can be heard saying: “While I was working, I was infected with Covid-19. I was confident that our government would take care of me and my family.

“I am the head of a family and worry about them more than I worry about myself. But the words of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan — “Don’t worry” — gave me the confidence that I was in good hands.”

The call that started Abu Dhabi’s Covid-19 response

It was an early morning in February when Colonel Al Khoury received a call that would define the next six months of his life. The words were simple and direct: “Come to the crisis management centre. We have a mission.”

The voice at the other end of the phone belonged to Major-General Maktoum Ali Al Sharifi, Director-General of Abu Dhabi Police. The crisis: Novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak.

Colonel Al Khoury, who has received 23 medals in his illustrious career, had served almost five years in the police academy after graduation. However, the operation related to the unprecedented contagion was outside the realms of ordinary police work. He needed to coordinate Abu Dhabi’s fast-paced response in a bid to keep the public safe in what has become the world’s biggest public health crisis in this millennium.

Colonel Al Khoury said: “When I arrived at the police headquarters, it was 8am. General Maktoum had called five persons in and I was one of them. We were instructed to create a task force to work on the mission and everything was immediate. I left that night at midnight and from February till August, I worked from 7am to 11pm, seven days a week.”

Video: UAE police show how residents adhere to new #StayHome rules

The news the small team was given in the briefing was that two Italian cyclists competing in the UAE Tour had tested positive for Covid-19 in Abu Dhabi.

Swiftly, the team grew and began working with the wider police force, the traffic department, Abu Dhabi Healthcare Company (SEHA), retailers, hospitality operators, municipalities and multiple government agencies. One of the first tasks was to turn hotels into quarantine centres.

“We had to bring locals safely back to the country from abroad and quarantine them. People were being quarantined in five-star hotels – everybody had their role to play in fighting the virus,” said Colonel Al Khoury.

Testing positive for Covid, being away from family

Colonel Al Khoury explained how he experienced the quarantine facilities first-hand after testing positive for Covid-19 in May.

“It was a good learning experience. I was in a quarantine centre for 14 days. Being in the centre allowed me to see first-hand how our people were working, how we were managing, how we talked to patients. I was delighted to receive calls from senior government officials and my family members.”

Contracting SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19, was not the biggest challenge for Colonel Al Khoury. That came in the form of the personal sacrifice of seeing little of his five children and family for a long period at the start of the pandemic. He said: “The first two months, I didn’t see my family — I would work and get home late and see my wife for five minutes. Then, I had to go to sleep.”

Praise for residents

Colonel Al Khoury praised Abu Dhabi residents for their collective response. “Most of the people in Abu Dhabi are educated and understand their responsibility in protecting the safety of their lives, their children and their colleagues,” he said. “So, most of them were onboard with the measures we were taking.

“Everybody had a responsibility. For example, let’s take food. Deliveries never stopped; they were taking food everywhere all the time. We were giving passes to people working in health, delivery, shipping — we didn’t stop them at all. Despite this, we had to make some tough decisions — people were working from home, people were sick, we had to close shops and malls,” he added.

Colonel Al Khoury praised the work of the Frontline Heroes Office, which recognises, celebrates and supports those who put themselves on the frontline in times of need in service of us all.

“We are encouraging people to be heroes,” he said. “So, it is important to lead by example and show everybody in our service that it is crucial they play their part,” he added.

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