The virus is spreading mainly because of people attending family or social gatherings without adhering to safety measures.
With daily Covid-19 cases more than doubling over the last four days in the UAE, doctors have joined the authorities in urging residents to continue adhering to all stipulated precautionary measures.
The UAE government on Tuesday said it had noticed an “alarming” increase in the number of daily cases. Reported cases have soared in the last four days: 210 (Sunday), 229, 365 and 435 (Wednesday).
In a virtual Press briefing on Tuesday, Minister of Health and Prevention Abdul Rahman Al Owais said the virus was spreading mainly because of people attending family or social gatherings without adhering to safety measures.
Dr Shaza Mohammed, family medicine specialist, Medcare Medical Centre Al Barsha, said she’s “not sure” why people have become complacent. “Covid-19 has not gone anywhere,” she said. “The restrictions have eased, but the risk of infection is still there.”
A frontline worker herself, Dr Shaza observed that people are, in general, less careful about social distancing measures and wearing their masks as they should be. “Perhaps they’re trying to make up for the recent lockdown, but I think it’s advisable they get back to the original instructions: Constant hand hygiene, wear masks if there’s more than one person in the room, and maintain social distance.”
With regard to gatherings, Dr Shaza added: “A gathering of four is fine, but 10 or 20 people in one house or even one room is too much. You might have someone who is sick but not presenting symptoms who could transmit the virus to everyone else in the room.”
The doctor said she couldn’t stress enough the need to wear masks, maintain social distance, and follow good hand hygiene. “In the past few months, we’re seeing that it (Covid-19) can affect anyone – not just older people, as thought in the beginning – and anyone can get critical because of it.”
Dr Faisal Dalvi, specialist internal medicine at Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi, noted that complacency may well lead to a second wave of infections. “We shouldn’t be overconfident about having the pandemic under control,” he said. “We need to exercise all precautions as before.”
The doctor acknowledged that people might find the situation frustrating, but added that it was “just a matter of time” before things “hopefully return to normal”. The key to achieving this, however, was to continue observing the safety measures in place.
He commended the UAE leadership for its robust approach to tackling the crisis, especially with regard to extensive and free testing. “There are many countries that have lost control of the situation. By comparison, the UAE has done extremely well.” With leaders and frontline workers all working hard, Dr Faisal appealed to the community to continue being responsible. “Just wearing a mask, avoiding crowded places and using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser can make a big difference.”
His advice comes from experiences he cannot forget. “At one point, during Ramadan, I had 40 patients under my care – all were really sick, with pneumonia in both lungs. I was fasting and on call for a week. Diabetes proved to be the number one cause of comorbidity – but we had patients of all age groups, so it’s not that people who were otherwise healthy were not at risk.”
Echoing his sentiment, Dr Shaza said: “The virus does not know what background, profession or age you come from: Whether you’re a citizen, a doctor or a child. It transmits through droplets and that can happen through anyone who’s not acting responsibly or complying with the advice given by health authorities.”
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