The Corona Virus outbreak has struck the world with stunning ferocity. While we do not know how long the crisis will last, we must understand what the United Arab Emirates is doing to keep its citizens safe from this virus.
Let us first understand how Coronavirus is spreading.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, the virus is spread through person-to-person contact or contaminated surfaces. While people are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic, some spread might be possible before people show symptoms.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, local, regional, and international organizations have been working diligently to contain its spread. Experts are scrambling to develop new medicines and technologies to stop Coronavirus from overwhelming national health systems. Especially in transit hubs that see people cross paths from all over the world, as well as developing nations where medical systems are already weak, under-funded, and vulnerable.
Other factors come into the picture like - lack of virus infection data from the regions like Indonesia, leading some to believe that the virus is silently spreading across the archipelago. Jakarta is slowly beginning to respond, has announced a second round of stimulus funding last week after slowly rolling out airport detection protocols.
In contrast, however, Hong Kong is the leading player in the development of a vaccine to eliminate COVID-19 and is at the front of the fight against the virus, bearing in mind its proximity to mainland China. Singapore, a country well-known for its cleanliness, order, and advanced medical facilities, has executed draconian measures that limit travel to mainland China and is compulsorily quarantining those returning from high-risk areas. People have even been charged for misleadingly declaring travel history.
While these policies are primarily effective – recovery rates now surpass infection rates in Singapore –they cannot be simply replicated in the region since they rely on policy acceptance, advanced hospitals, and economic stimulus. For much of Southeast Asia, and definitely the world, more strategic policy action must be taken.
UAE Stance During the Pandemic
Across the Persian Gulf, the Arab Gulf States have reacted otherwise, with results spotty. Most have, at minimum, fixed non-intrusive thermal screening for all airline passengers and cancelled many cultural and sporting occasions.
Some nations have employed more operational tactics to stem the spread.
The UAE, in particular, has shown to have taken care, well-thought-out steps intended to contain the spread of Coronavirus and safeguard its role as a major business hub. UAE authorities have established several preventative measures, acknowledging its weakness as a potential facilitator of a global pandemic, such as localized quarantines and airport screenings. Hand sanitizers are now in all hotels, government agencies are directed to interact online instead of through face-to-face meetings, and a preliminary program starts this week in government schools to teach via distance learning – if successful may roll out further. The Emirates has also acted beyond their borders recently, airlifting a group of Yemeni students from Wuhan, China – the virus’s epicentre.
The Emirates’ Department of Health is inspecting and examining anyone who may have been unprotected to the virus.
It has advised the public to take proactive steps such as washing hands with soap and clean water, and covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing. The Department of Health has also issued an instruction that all diagnoses, admission, and treatment of suspected COVID-19 cases will be covered by the country’s national health plan.
Measures Taken by the UAE to Fight Back COVID-19
To ensure public health and safety, the UAE authorities have taken the following precautionary measures.
- On March 14, the UAE Central Bank announced that it is pumping in Dh100 billion as a stimulus package to offset the slowdown in the economy set off by the COVID outbreak and subsequent drop in business activity
- Later, on March 22, the UAE Cabinet approved an additional Dh16 billion to address the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, bringing Dh126 billion the total stimulus package in the country.
- Apart from providing this financial stimulus, the authorities in the UAE are also taking stringent measures to ensure the global pandemic is controlled and monitored within the UAE.
- A three-day National Sterilization Drive was announced on March 26. The drive which took place from 8 pm on Thursday, March 26, until 6 am on Sunday, March 29, carried out by the Ministry of Interior in coordination with all relevant federal and local entities.
- Dubai Executive Council issued circular to government entities to implement a 100% remote work system as on Sunday, March 29, 2020. Apart from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah governments had also announced earlier that their remote work pilot program would begin, with many employees working from home.
- In a series of announcements, the government of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah announced relief for people who may struggle with rental and banking payments.
- On March 25, the Roads and Transport Authority announced measures to implement precautions on Public Transport in the UAE. It included allowing only two passengers in a Dubai Taxi, controlling the number of riders per metro or bus, to maintain a safe distance between riders and providing the controls of doors in a bus to the driver. As part of the move, the front and middle doors of the bus would be opened, and the rear door would remain shut.
- First Arab Bank, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank announced initiatives for individuals and small and medium enterprises to relieve the financial strain they might experience because of the economic impact of the pandemic. The efforts include deferring installments, reducing interest charges, bank charges, and down payment.
With such and many more initiatives, the United Arab Emirates has shown, being both economically defensive and medically proactive is the finest way to fight against the effects of Coronavirus.
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