ROSHIN MARY GEORGE
The UAE’s penchant for taking the COVID-19 fight head on was evident as the federal government announced a return to business but with social distancing norms in place. All federal ministries and institutions will function from May 31 at 30 per cent capacity. This will be gradually increased, and will attain 100 percent capacity from June 14, 2020.
As of now, certain categories of people can continue with the remote work system; they include pregnant women, people of determination, and people with chronic diseases like asthma and diabetes.
The emirate of Dubai, which resumed business activities from 6 am to 11 pm on May 27, witnessed a buzz of activity in its streets and public places. Restaurants, cinemas, gyms and recreation centres welcomed back customers while following sterilisation and social distancing precautions.
The National Disinfection Programme will now be from 11 p.m. to 6 am in Dubai while the six other emirates will continue to observe the 8 p.m. to 6 am timings until further notice. The programme, which involved a complete sterilisation of all public spaces and utilities, had begun on the night of March 26 and has continued with complete public support thereafter. The movement restrictions applied to all residents and visitors, except those working in vital sectors. Dubai even went into a 24 hour sterilisation drive from April 5 advising the public to stay at home except for essential purposes.
This has now seen results, and Dubai is cautiously heralding the new normal. The lifeline of many expats, the Dubai Metro, which had resumed on April 26 after a temporary suspension from April 5, was its old bustling self on the first day after the Eid holidays. Trams, buses and the peak-hour traffic jams on the Sharjah-Dubai roads are all back to add to the emirate’s dynamic way of life.
COVID-19 fight and death toll
As of May 27, 883 new cases were reported taking the total number of infected in the country to 31,969. This includes those receiving treatment, recovered cases, and deaths. With the recovery of 389 patients after receiving the necessary medical care, the total number of recoveries in the country now stands at 16,371.
Dr. Amna Al Dahak Al Shamsi, official spokesperson for the UAE government, announced the death of two patients on Wednesday, which took the total number of COVID-related deaths to 255.
“The number of COVID-19 cases still receiving treatment now stands at 15,343 from different nationalities,” she added.
“Regarding the gradual return to normal life and amendments to the National Disinfection Programme, they are being assessed by the relevant committees in every emirate to ensure the readiness of local economic sectors to serve the public and take all preventative measures,” Al Shamsi said.
Repatriation of Indian expatriates
The Indian government had launched the Vande Bharat Mission for the repatriation of stranded Indians in early May. The first repatriation flight ferried 181 passengers from Abu Dhabi to Kochi on May 7. Until June 8, 81 flights will take around 14,000 Indians from the UAE.
Pregnant women and those with medical emergencies are given priority. More than 800 pregnant women have already been repatriated from the UAE to India. At least 6,500 pregnant women in the UAE, have registered with the Indian embassy (in Abu Dhabi) and consulate (in Dubai) to return home to India.