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:
The UAE has announced the gradual opening up of its airspace to allow operations of limited flights. “The UAE government has decided to resume transit flights by national carriers Etihad, Emirates, Fly Dubai and Air Arabia via Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah airports. The decision to resume flights comes after comprehensive assessment of the Covid situation,” Dr Saif Al Dhaheri, Spokesman for National Crisis & Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA) said during a press virtual briefing on Wednesday. Welcoming the decision, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, CEO and chairman of the Emirates Group, said that Dubai airlines will soon announce resumption of passenger flights. “We welcome the UAE authorities’ decision to re-open UAE airports for all connecting travellers. @Emirates and flydubai will shortly announce the resumption of passenger flights to more cities with connections to, and through, Dubai,” he tweeted.
Starting June 7, the workforce at UAE government departments working in headquarters of federal ministries, agencies and institutions will increase by 50 per cent, state news agency WAM announced on Wednesday. The decision comes as a considerable increase from the previously implemented 30 per cent workforce restriction across UAE government entities last week. The restrictions on employees working from office was placed as a precautionary measure to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the country. However, Dubai, 50 per cent workforce change was implemented last week.
The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Wednesday reported 571 new cases of Covid-19 coronavirus, along with new 427 recoveries. This has bought the total number of cases to 36,359 in the country and the total recoveries to 19,153. The health ministry also announced the death of one person as a result of the illness, bringing the total number of deaths to 270 in the country. With rapid setting up of testing centres across the country, and strict implementation of preventive guidelines, the UAE has kept the spike in new cases in check.
A team of 40 frontline medical staff from the US, including nurses, physicians, and allied health professionals, arrived in Abu Dhabi to spend six weeks with the multidisciplinary team at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. While providing care for the most seriously ill Covid-19 patients, the team will also share key learning from managing the disease in the US, as well as get updates on the remarkable progress in testing and treatment programme made by the UAE. As part of a global knowledge exchange, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi – part of the Mubadala network of healthcare assets – joined hands with the US-based Cleveland Clinic to share expertise and best practice around treating Covid-19 patients. Medical professionals are looking forward to serve the community. Dr Rakesh Suri, CEO, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, said: “This international health crisis requires a collaborative effort to share best practice and find the most effective treatments for Covid-19 patients.”
A week-long temporary movement ban in Abu Dhabi will help authorities assess how Covid-19 is spreading and take action accordingly to control it, a top official has said. The move, which began on June 2, bans travel to and from Abu Dhabi and within its regions. The official explained that the temporary ban will enable authorities to test the largest number of people for Covid-19. A National Screening Programme being carried out in the Capital includes testing workers and residents in high-density areas. Dr Jamal Al Kaabi, acting undersecretary of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, said the authorities are carrying out the testing in a “systematic way”. “As you know, we have started the National Screening Programme. And in order to execute it more effectively, we have to make a sacrifice,” Al Kaabi said in a video released by the Abu Dhabi Media office.
With private sector offices in Dubai now allowed to operate at 100 per cent capacity, business leaders are chalking out efficient back-to-work strategies with employee well-being in mind. #Dubai’s based Joseph Group, the largest signage company in Middle East and Africa resumes full operation adhering to strict precaution measures to ensure safety of its employees and clients. Khaleej Times spoke to some firms about how they will restore normalcy at offices while ensuring employees adhere to precautionary guidelines. It’s not easy for every firm to ensure the same level of safety for its employees with pre-Covid office settings. Bharat Bhatia, CEO, Conares, said: “They have to plan dexterously either by acquiring extra space or spreading out in different offices, if possible. So, in our case, employees are operating from our different offices to ensure that we are more spaced out. Therefore, everyone is now busy reevaluating their needs keeping in mind employee safety.”
Imams and muezzins of mosques in Dubai have been asked to undergo tests for Covid-19 coronavirus, Khaleej Times can confirm. “We received a call from the authorities saying we had to undergo the test on Wednesday, which, of course, is a precautionary measure to ensure that all the employees of the mosques are fit and free from the virus,” one of the imams confirmed. The authorities have not yet announced a date for the reopening of mosques. As Khaleej Times reported earlier today, mosques are undergoing an intensified sterilisation process. “We are fully prepared to reopen the mosque as soon as we get the go-ahead. We have placed multilingual signboards spelling out the guidelines that must be followed at all times by the worshippers. Although all worshippers must get their own prayer mats when they come to pray, we have made arrangements to offer disposable prayer mats for those who forget to bring it,” the Imam said.
A Dubai-based university is all set to host a drive-in graduation ceremony where drones will confer degrees on the students. The American University in the Emirates (AUE) said it will host the ceremony on July 15. The date coincides with the birthday of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The university’s president Muthanna Abdul Razzak said: “We are attempting something new. Due to Covid-19, students stopped coming to the university. I could sense that they would be upset because they wouldn’t be able to have a proper graduation ceremony. So, we thought of doing this.”An elaborate plan has been laid out. Each student will park his/her vehicle as per the area assigned to them and will get to hear their names being called out through the radio. Twenty drones will be deployed to hand over the degrees to them.
New dashboard to monitor, predict Covid-19 spread in Dubai
The Dubai Covid-19 Command and Control Centre (CCC) has collaborated with Smart Dubai to develop an innovative digital dashboard to monitor and predict the spread of Covid-19 in Dubai. The dashboard, which supports the centre’s strategy to fight the pandemic in Dubai, is based on accurate and consistently updated real-time data to help facilitate effective containment measures. Dr. Amer Sharif, Head of Dubai’s Covid-19 Command and Control Centre (CCC) said: “With the guidance of our leadership and the concerted efforts of the government and private sector, we were able to build a database filled with accurate information about the frequency of the spread of the virus in Dubai. This platform is crucial in supporting the decision-making process to effectively confront the spread of the virus based on available information and up-to-date data on the actual spread of the pandemic in Dubai, and the state of the healthcare system in the city.”
Abu Dhabi Police had announced the provision of movement permits between cities in the emirates during the restricted movement period from June 2 for one week. Authorities said people can obtain permits via the ‘Traffic Permits System – Abu Dhabi’ on the Abu Dhabi Police website. But some residents who have to travel in and out of Abu Dhabi for vital work or other essential purposes say they were facing difficulties in getting approvals for the movement permits.An Abu Dhabi resident who preferred to be referred as R. C, says he is working at substation construction project in Dubai. “When I recently applied for the movement permit, all the three messages that I received from the Traffic Permit System were that my requests had been rejected,” he said. “I really found it difficult getting the work permit yet my job is under the essential category and I have to travel to work on a daily basis.” Adria, a resident of Al Ain said he had to drop his family off at the Abu Dhabi Airport and then return, but he was only issued a permit from Al Ain to Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) on Wednesday announced the opening of the Covid-19 Prime Assessment Centres in Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre and Al Ain Convention Centre, with a daily visitor capacity of 2,000 in and 1,500 respectively. The centres, managed by Ambulatory Healthcare Services, a Seha healthcare facility, help all members of the community with a positive Covid-19 test result. The patients will undergo an initial assessment at the centres and will receive further guidance on how to deal with the virus. The facilities are dedicated for patients who test positive for the coronavirus and will strengthen the existing Covid-19 healthcare infrastructure in Abu Dhabi by providing the community with easy and safe access to testing, medical assessment, and guidance at the hands of qualified medical professionals and volunteers speaking the various languages of the Abu Dhabi community.
After a 24-hour delay, a chartered flight repatriating stranded Indians from Ras Al Khaimah to Kozhikode in Kerala, India, organised by the Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre (KMCC), finally took off at 6.30pm on Wednesday, Khaleej Times has learnt. The SpiceJet flight carrying over 170 distressed Indians was supposed to depart from RAK International Airport at 6pm on Tuesday. Puttur Rahman, president of the UAE KMCC National Committee, attributed the delay to ‘technical reasons’. All passengers underwent mandatory IgG/IgM testing ahead of boarding, said Abdul Gafoor, one of the passengers. Passengers began boarding the flight at approximately 5.45pm on Wednesday, added Gafoor.
Air Arabia, the only listed carrier in the UAE, has made further job cuts due to the business impact of Covid-19, a spokesman said on Wednesday. The Sharjah-based airline, which has about 2,000 employees, did not say how many employees had been affected. It laid off 57 employees in May. The latest job cuts were a “last alternative” after the airline took a series of steps in past months to protect jobs, the spokesman said, without elaborating. Air Arabia, like other airlines in the UAE, has operated few, limited services since grounding passenger flights in March. It is not clear when normal operations will resume.
Jayesh Adnani, a Dubai resident studying at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, was one of the lucky students to make it back to the UAE on the first few special flights that have started bringing stranded expatriates abroad from June 1. His parents waited outside Dubai International Airport just to catch a glimpse of him and wave at him as they were told that passengers on incoming flights would be taken to quarantine facilities. However, unlike last week, this time the students were given the option to home-quarantine or pay for staying at the five-star facility for 14 days. His mother Ekta Adnani said: “Some of our friends’ children had arrived from Canada last week and they were taken to these five-star quarantine facilities in Dubai with the government bearing all expenses of their 14-day stay. We were expecting the same. Our son and others with him were individually taken in chauffeur-driven cars to the facility.
Dubai Police have supported employees of Dubai Health Authority (DHA) by providing 1,500 3D-printed face mask buckles to ensure they are more comfortable. The gesture is a recognition of the continuous efforts put in by frontline workers to curb the spread of Covid-19 and follows the directives of Lieutenant General Abdullah Khalifa Al Merri, Commander-In-Chief of Dubai Police. According to Dubai Police, the 3D-printed buckles were produced at their Innovation Lab. The ear-loop face masks will improve wearability and stop the irritation that many complain behind the ears when face masks are worn for a long time.
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