Doctors said that though the possibility of a second wave of restrictions is premature at this point.
For God’s sake, do follow Covid rules. That’s how we headlined a fervent appeal on the Khaleej Times Front Page when daily Covid cases in the UAE hit 435 recently. We soon rolled out a campaign, #IAmResponsible, as part of our commitment to educate residents and help the government fight the pandemic. However, the count has alarmingly soared to 735, the highest in 99 days.
Is it a prelude to a second wave? Who is responsible? Do you want another lockdown? Do you need a new round of retrenchments? Do you wish to face another cycle of no-pay leave or pay cuts? Do you want more of your dear ones to get sick? Do you want to see businesses shuttered down and flights grounded again? If you don’t, let’s say in one voice: #IAmResponsible. Today, we are going back to the basics, with an appeal to follow a few simple rules to ward off the infection and save the country from another round of agony.
The UAE on Wednesday reported the highest number of new Covid-19 cases in 99 days: 735. It was the biggest count in a day since May 27, when 883 cases were recorded.
Following the recent spike in positive cases, Dr Saif Al Dhaheri, spokesperson for the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, had said authorities would seek to contain the virus in localised hotspots, instead of imposing nationwide restrictions.
He also suggested that the increase could lead to the return of the National Sterilisation Programme, which would restrict residents’ movement, especially at night, as streets and public facilities are sanitised.
Doctors said that though the possibility of a second wave of restrictions is premature at this point, it is “undeniable” that the virus has been infecting more people again.
Dr Dirar Abdullah, consultant and head of ICU at Prime Hospital, said: “Such pandemics usually come in waves and we have seen it happen with previous viruses such as H1N1. Usually, a second wave starts with the changing season. The lack of a vaccine and the onset of winter are sometimes reasons why we are seeing a sudden surge in new cases.”
Dr Abdullah believes medical teams are now more prepared, learning from the experience of dealing with several cases in a short span of time. However, the experts cautioned that a fresh wave of patients could have a “catastrophic impact” on the already strained socio-economic and healthcare system.
Dr Jean Marc Gauer, CEO of RAK Hospital, said: “A second wave is, of course, a real threat and would put a strain on the heavily affected socio-economic and healthcare system. It must be avoided at all cost.”
Prevention is always better than cure, Dr Gauer reiterated. “And it is actually quite easy, just by staying vigilant and by following the basic rules of social distancing and hygiene.”
Doctors are confident that the UAE is well prepared on all fronts, be it in healthcare, in government or the private sector. Regular testing must for certain populations
So far, the country has done over 7.2 million Covid-19 tests and, according to Dr Gauer, these screenings are key to beating the pandemic.
“It is important to continue regular testing, especially for populations who cannot necessarily avoid social contacts. I’m mainly talking about teachers, workers in the service sectors, large corporates and labour accommodations. These individuals are at a constant high risk and must be closely monitored,” he said.
Dr Abdullah added: “We have already started preparing for this by putting protocols and processes in place. Based on experiences from previous viruses and pandemics, I think this virus will take some time. Therefore, we must learn to live with it.”
Avoid crowded areas
Raising awareness about taking precautions has become of paramount importance, the doctor said. “People need to abide by the rules of social distancing and behave responsibly. They need to stay alert and avoid crowded areas.”
“We will definitely be more comfortable once we have a vaccine, but the vaccine still cannot stop the spread the disease from one person to another. Therefore, you and I have to exercise caution,” Dr Abdullah said.
(With inputs from Dhanusha Gokulan)
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