A round-up of major developments related to Covid-19 across the country.
Here’s a round-up of all the latest developments you need to know
UAE announces 546 new cases, 11 deaths
The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Wednesday announced 546 new cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases of 15,738. 11 deaths have been announced in the country, bring the total number of victims to 157. The month of May witnessed an increase in recoveries from coronavirus. The recovery average stands at 150 cases this month while there was an average of 100 recoveries in the previous months. Total number of recoveries stand 3359 and the number is continuously increasing. A total of 206 new recoveries are received on Wednesday.
30 people from 2 families infected after hosting family gatherings
Thirty people in the UAE including a two-month old baby contracted coronavirus from two families that neglected social distancing and hosted family gatherings. The infected cases include a two-month-old infant and a number of elderly people.
Indians with tickets start counting hours for evacuation flights
Hundreds of stranded Indians in the UAE are relieved as they will be able to leave onboard special flights on Thursday. Jaimson Pappachan, an expat for 27 years and his wife and child will be on the first flight from Abu Dhabi to Kochi. Pappachan had quit his job to tend to his ailing parents. And with 24 hours to go, he managed to get tickets booked. “I received a call from the Indian Embassy on Tuesday and booked our tickets at Air India Express office on Wednesday. Now, I am busy moving our stuff through cargo.” It helped Pappachan that he was already prepared to leave after resigning the job few months back. “My parents are aged and not keeping well. So, I quit my job. I also took transfer certificate for my child from school. I had booked tickets for April but had to cancel it because of the Covid-19 travel restrictions. For more than a month, we are all following #StayHome but without any job. So, this is very timely relief.”
UAE calls for deescalation in region to focus on virus
The United Arab Emirates on Wednesday stressed the need for deescalation in the region to allow countries to focus on “the hurricane” caused by the coronavirus pandemic and review development models. Asked during a webinar organised by Beirut Institute Summit whether there was concern that Iran may provoke a confrontation in the region, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said: “We need to really concentrate on de-escalation.” “The region, like all regions in the world, is going to be financially and politically weaker. We would be wise to think about our development models, about de-escalation and to try some problem-solving,” Gargash said. Gargash said countries would be focused inwards on the ramifications of the pandemic that disrupted business globally.
Thousands of workers tested at new centre, get results in 48 hours
Thousands of residents and blue-collar workers have been screened at the newly launched Covid-19 testing facility in Abu Dhabi’s industrial area of Musaffah and results made available within 48 hours, a top health official said. The facility, to support the National Screening Project, was introduced by Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) and aims to screen 335,000 people. “We have a capacity of around 10,000 per day. Anyone from Mussafah can come here. In the last three days, we received an average of 6,000 to 7,000 persons per day. We did nasal swab test for around 4,000 in last three days. The number of workers coming in is increasing but our absorption for higher number is very good. We have a staff of 100, including physicians, nurses, phlebotomist and volunteers,” Dr Noura Al Ghaithi, Chief Operations Officer, Ambulatory Healthcare Services, Seha, told Khaleej Times.
UAE checks working conditions of Emiratis at 2,710 businesses amid coronavirus situation
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) has reached out to over 2,710 private businesses in the UAE to check the working conditions of their Emirati employees (men and women). The initiative comes within the framework of the special committee that was formed by the MoHRE as part of the national programme to support the stability of the labour market in the private sector. The programme has been launched by the ministry in coordination with the National Authority for Emergencies, Crises and Disasters Management to ensure the continuity of the performance and productivity of the labour market against the current challenges. Nasser bin Abdullah bin Kharbash, undersecretary for emiratisation affairs at the MoHRE, chairman of the committee, said: “The committee has begun its work as per a comprehensive and timetabled plan that aims to communicate and coordinate with the private companies where Emiratis work in different positions.”
Food outlets in Abu Dhabi to coordinate with authorities before allowing customers
The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, ADDED, has affirmed that owners of restaurants, cafeterias and food outlets across Abu Dhabi, whether they are located inside or outside malls and shopping centres, should not receive customers without prior coordination with local departments with regards to compliance with the guidelines related to the health practices and preventive measures aimed at stopping the spread of coronavirus, Covid-19, infection. Rashed Abdul Karim Al Balooshi, Undersecretary of ADDED, said the latest circular provides the rules that will help facilitate the reopening of these food and beverage facilities and enable them to provide services to the community in accordance with the regulations on protecting the health and safety of individuals.
Seniors, kids must strictly #StayHome in UAE
Even as the UAE has partially eased lockdown restrictions imposed more than a month ago to combat the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), the government is making sure that the more vulnerable sections of the society – senior citizens and children – play it safe and stay at home to protect themselves against Covid-19. On Tuesday, May 5, the UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHaP) and the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) in a joint announcement stated that people over the age of 60 and children younger than 12 are prohibited from entering shopping malls, cooperative societies, and supermarkets. They are also prohibited from entering retail stores located outside shopping centres. The directive comes as part of the ministry’s precautionary measures and restrictions governing the re-opening of shopping malls and commercial centres in the UAE. Doctors said children and elderly are the most “at-risk” groups from the coronavirus due to their weaker immune systems and therefore are more vulnerable to infectious diseases.
Dubai to ensure smooth repatriation of workers
The GDRFA has been working closely and coordinating with other strategic partners to streamline the repatriation process of the laid-off foreign workers, said a senior residency official. Talking during “Shukran Ya Watan” show on Sama Dubai channel, Major Salem bin Ali, Director of the Amer Department for Customers’ happiness, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), Dubai, said that the GDRFA is closely coordinating with the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International cooperation, the Dubai airports and the Civil Aviation Authority, and the Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) and other strategic partners to streamline the repatriation process.
9 major markets, meat shops in Abu Dhabi to reopen soon
Nine major vegetable and meat markets across Abu Dhabi are set to reopen, with preparations now under way, authorities have announced. Strict Covid-19 precautionary measures and health guidelines have been issued to ensure public safety, the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (Adafsa) said on Wednesday. These markets include meat shops in Al Mina market; vegetable and meat shops in Mushrif Mall; Green Market in Bani Yas and Shahama; vegetable and fruit markets and butcher shops at Souq Al Jabra in Al Ain; the central vegetable and fish market in Ruwais, Al Dhafra; and the Central Market in Madinat Zayed. Operating hours for vegetable and meat markets will be from 10am to 7pm. For fish markets, which were reopened early April, customers are received from 10am to 5pm. These schedules have been set according to the National Sterilisation Programme and the market’s ability to organise shoppers’ entry, Adafsa said.
What is the Covid-19 IGM/IGG rapid test Indians in UAE have to take before repatriation?
The Indian embassy, with its health protocol for evacuation flights, has added a new terminology, the IGM/IGG test, for everyone at airports before departure. Passengers who will fly from Abu Dhabi to Kochi on Thursday have been asked to report at the airport by noon, more than four hours prior to their scheduled 4.15pm flight. Khaleej Times has learnt this is being done to facilitate the conduct of such a test. The departure for Air India Express, which normally operates from Terminal 1, has been moved to Terminal 3 to accommodate for conducting the medical screening and IGM/IGG test. “Only those cleared by the UAE health authorities and found to be asymptomatic will be allowed to board the plane,” the Indian embassy said.
Air India crew on repatriation flights to wear PPE suits
Air India crew members on board the repatriation fights from UAE to India will don full protective gear, including PPE, to reduce the risk of contracting coronavirus, Khaleej Times has learnt. “The crew onboard will be wearing PPE as they will come in contact with the passengers,” an Air India official told Khaleej Times. It is not clear how many crew members will be onboard the first two flights that will take off from Dubai and Abu Dhabi on Thursday. But the official said the crew is undergoing training on how to wear PPEs and on health and safety protocols to be followed while dealing with the passengers. India will begin the world’s largest ever repatriation mission from May 7, which is expected to bring back 15,000 Indians stranded abroad due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Indian twins, stuck at Dubai airport for 50 days, set to fly home
Tired, homesick and desperate to return home, Indian identical twins Jackson and Benson Andrews breathed a huge sigh of relief when they received an e-mail from the Consulate General of India in Dubai on Tuesday. The 30-year-old brothers, who have been stranded inside the Dubai International Airport’s terminal 3 for nearly 50 days, are among the 170-odd passengers who will be boarding the first repatriation flight to Kozhikode in Kerala on Thursday, May 7. The twins are among the 19 Indian passengers who have been stuck inside the airport for over a month. “We received the letter from the consulate on Tuesday. A copy of our flight tickets have been sent to us as well,” Jackson told Khaleej Times. Press consul at the consulate, Neeraj Aggarwal, said, “Based on the schedule of flights and the destination of passengers, these 19 stranded Indians will all be flying out on priority in the coming week.”
1,342 Dubai outlets inspected, no closures, no fines issued
The Commercial Compliance & Consumer Protection (CCCP) sector in Dubai Economy has implemented a new inspection campaign for shops and commercial establishments during the current phase of market reopening in the emirate. Inspections held earlier this week showed a high level of compliance with the reopening guidelines and found that 1,342 businesses were compliant. In addition, 19 businesses were warned for not displaying social distancing stickers. During the inspection of high-street shops, 908 were found to have fully complied with the precautionary guidelines, and only three warnings were issued. The shops inspected were in Al Nahda, Satwa, Muteena, Hor Al Anz, Frij Murar, Abu Hail, Al Rafaa, Ayal Nassir, Souq Al Kabeer, Karama, Naif, Oud Metha, Al Wasl, Ras Al Khor, Al Twar, and Jumeirah.
UAE-India repatriation flights to have 9-seat isolation zone
Evacuation flights from the UAE to India on Thursday will have an onboard ‘isolation zone’. Both the 186-seater Air India Express planes will fly 177 passengers each on Abu Dhabi-Kochi and Dubai-Kozhikode sectors. This will allow for creation of a bunch of nine empty seats at the back, which will serve as an isolation zone, Khaleej Times has learnt. Also read: 6,500 pregnant women to fly back home Among precautionary measures, all crew will wear personal protective equipment on the flights. While the flight from Abu Dhabi departs at 4.15 pm to Kochi, service from Dubai will leave at revised time of 5.10 pm for Kozhikode.
No lockdown to be imposed on any part of Sharjah
The police will not impose lockdowns on any area of Sharjah amid the current state of the coronavirus pandemic, the police chief said in a post shared on Wednesday. Major General Saif Zari Al Shamsi, Commander-in-Chief of the Sharjah Police, said the authorities did not detect any mass infection across the emirate. Hence, there is no need to impose tighter restrictions on any area. “There was no massive spread of coronavirus in any location within Sharjah. The police have no intention to impose any lockdown,” he said.
Burj Khalifa dazzles with 393,000 lights in four days of donations
Within four days of the World’s Tallest Donation Box launch, Burj Khalifa shone bright with 393,000 lights as donations continue pouring in to support coronavirus-hit communities in the UAE. The light donations of individuals and companies across the country will secure 393,000 meals to the ’10 million meals’ campaign that aims to provide food support for those affected by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Individuals from 100 nationalities contributed to the World’s Tallest Donation Box that provides a meal for every light purchased for as little as Dh10. Donations illuminated 46 floors of Burj Khalifa, with the goal to shine the 1.2 million lights on the facade of the world’s tallest building in a message of solidarity and hope to communities hard hit by the pandemic across the world.
Group gives warm meals to workers in UAE
One of the biggest casualties of Covid-19 have been daily wage workers, who have lost their means of livelihood. Mohammed, an electrician, found himself unemployed six weeks ago. An avid follower of Ramadan meal campaigns offered by Classic Catering every year, he held on to his delivery bag from last year and cycled all the way from his accommodation to the catering’s kitchen in DIP this year – to request four meals he and his friends could break their fast with. Hope floats in the bleakest of times, thanks to initiatives, such as #CurryForCOVID. This year, Classic Catering joined hands with Father and Kids Camping to provide meals to low-wage workers who have lost their jobs owing to Covid-19. Since the beginning of Ramadan, they have served close to 1,000 meals every day.
Sharjah establishes volunteering committee to fight coronavirus
Sharjah Executive Council, SEC, has issued a decision to establish and form volunteering committee for the Emirate of Sharjah. The decision stipulates the establishment of a committee named “The volunteering efforts during the coronavirus pandemic. Afaf Ibrahim Al Marri, will preside the committee with the membership of Dr. Tariq Sultan bin Khadem, vice president; Ali Salem Al Midfa, member; Sultan bin Butti Al Muhairi, member; Iman Rashid Saif, member and Hessa Mohammed Al Hammadi, member. The committee shall add more members if needed, with the approval of SEC, and shall report directly to SEC. As per the decision, the specialisations of the committee are to be setting standards and conditions related to the volunteering of Sharjah Government employees during the Covid-19 pandemic. Organising and launching volunteering initiatives in Sharjah to fight the pandemic.
Dubai Police delivers ‘surprise gift’ for Covid-19 volunteers
Showing appreciation to hundreds of volunteers who helped the UAE authorities combat Covid-19 on various fronts and even contracted the virus themselves while volunteering, the Dubai Police delivered surprise gift packs to their homes. The gift pack included a beautiful flower bouquet, a branded watch and an assorted pack of chocolates. One of the volunteers who received the gift was eminent Indian social worker Naseer Vatanappally, who tested positive for Covid-19 last month, and made complete recovery from the infection in about two weeks. Vatanappally has helped hundreds if not thousands of residents of Al Naif and Al Ras with supplies of food and other essential matters
6,500 pregnant Indian women register to fly home from UAE
At least 6,500 pregnant women in the UAE, in various stages of their pregnancy, have registered their interest to return home to India, Khaleej Times has learnt. A large number of the women could be from Kerala as almost 9,000 pregnant women, from across the world, have registered with the non-resident Keralites Affairs’ (NORKA), the Kerala government’s official portal. The women and their families in the UAE have appealed to diplomatic missions to consider them for immediate travel, citing a lack of medical insurance and financial inability to have their babies in the UAE. Remya Rajamma, a 33-year-old pregnant woman from Alappuzha, Kerala, said she is a little over 34 weeks pregnant. She, along with her 18-month-old baby and husband, are eagerly waiting to travel to India to have their baby. “I have to travel before May 10. I cannot travel after that. The doctor has said it is not safe,” Remya told Khaleej Times. She does not have medical insurance.
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