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UAE carries out over 6 million laboratory tests for COVID-19, with over 59,000 daily tests reveal 365 new infections: UAE Government

18 Aug, 2020: Abdul Rahman bin Mohammad bin Nasser Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, announced that the UAE has exceeded 6 million laboratory tests for the coronavirus, COVID-19, an important development in the Government’s strategy to tackle the virus and protect society.

The announcement came during a media briefing held by the UAE Government in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. The Minister said that in addition to taking proactive measures to confront the pandemic at the health, social and economic levels, the UAE continues to support scientific and medical research to develop effective solutions to tackle the virus.

Al Owais added that the UAE recently launched the Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Medical Research, which is a qualitative addition that will contribute to the development of the UAE’s scientific research sector. The centre will focus its specialisations on research into communicable diseases in the country in addition to research on COVID-19.

The Minister pointed out that these initiatives will enhance the role of the UAE and its active contribution to support global efforts to aid the health sector and society as a whole.

Al Owais said that during the past two weeks there has been a noticeable increase in daily infection rates, which may be an indicator of an alarming increase in the number of cases in the coming period. He stressed the importance of adhering to all precautionary measures, including avoiding gatherings and visits and following physical distancing rules.

With regard to the third phase of clinical trials that are taking place in the UAE on a promising vaccine for COVID-19, the Minister said that there has been tangible developments and that the results are very reassuring, with no side effects recorded among the volunteers. He thanked all of the participants and volunteers for assisting in the trials.

Al Owais renewed his call to all members of society to participate in this noble humanitarian work, which will benefit not only the UAE but millions of people around the world. He expressed his great confidence in UAE society, including all citizens and residents for their constant eagerness to support positive initiatives at all times and in all circumstances.

He added that the Government’s strategy for dealing with the pandemic and limiting its spread can not be completed without the full commitment of all members of the public to the Government’s instructions and all precautionary measures.

Dr Omar Al Hammadi, official spokesman for the UAE Government, said that the number of new daily tests has reached 59,759. These revealled 365 new cases, all of which are receiving the necessary care in health care institutions. The latest figures bring the total number of recorded cases of COVID-19 in the UAE to 64,906.

Dr Al Hammadi also said that a further 115 people have recovered from the virus, bringing the total number of recoveries in the UAE to 57,909. He added that two deaths were recorded, bringing the total to 366. He pointed out that the number of patients currently receiving treatment stands at 6,631.

He pointed to the worrying increase in the number of daily cases among citizens and residents, by 136 cases, compared to the previous period. He attributed this to people attending gatherings and visits without following basic precautionary and preventive measures such as physical distancing and wearing masks.

Dr Al Hammadi warned people against using products that are being wrongly promoted for their ability to combat COVID-19 without any scientific basis. He gave as an example a product that releases chlorine dioxide gas, which is wrongly claimed to be able to eliminate the virus before it enters the human body.

Dr Al Hammadi stressed that these products do not provide protection from the coronavirus, adding that the claim chlorine dioxide gas can kill the virus is not based on any reliable scientific evidence. He warned that chlorine dioxide can cause lung, kidney and heart problems.

He pointed out that the presence of the word ‘safe’ on a product does not mean that it is effective in treating certain diseases, but only means that the product is not harmful to the human body. It may not be beneficial to a person’s health unless a reliable scientific body states it is valid for treating certain diseases with certain doses, for a certain period of time and under specific conditions with close control.

Dr Al Hammadi warned that the danger of using these products comes not only from their potential side effects, but also in people’s reliance on their ability to provide protection instead of following proven precautionary measures such as wearing masks, social distancing and personal hygiene. These methods all have a proven effectiveness in combating the spread of COVID-19.

Regarding the best health and safety practices to be followed in gyms, Dr Al Hammadi said people should refrain from going to health clubs or gyms if they are feeling sick. When they do visit a gym, they should maintain physical distancing of at least two meters from others, wear masks and sterilize their hands before and after using shared equipment.

People should also take care when using their own personal gym equipment, and not share it with other gym goers, he added.

The Spokesperson added that the possibility of infection increases when people gather in large numbers, with team sports more likely to spread the virus than individual sports and outdoor activities less dangerous than indoor activities. He said gym goers must be organised and disciplined to prevent crowds and to ensure that all facilities are sterilized continuously.

Dr Al Hammadi said people who find they have trouble breathing while wearing a mask and practicing intense sports such as running, should only conduct these kinds of exercises outside or in a well-ventilated space that makes physical distancing possible.

Dr Al Hammadi ended the briefing by stressing to the public that the recent decline in the number of COVID-19 cases does not mean the elimination of the virus.

He cited an alarming increase in the number of infections as an indication that COVID-19 cannot be overlooked and that people need to continue to follow all of the preventive health and safety measures, the most important of which is physical distancing and avoiding large gatherings and visits.

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