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COVID-19 recoveries rise to 9,577; 832 new cases identified

18 May, 2020: The UAE Government announced on Monday that 1,065 patients have fully recovered from COVID-19 after receiving the necessary medical care, raising the total number of recoveries in the country to 9,577.

The announcement was made during the regular media briefing held in Abu Dhabi, wherein Dr. Amna Al Dahak Al Shamsi, the official spokesperson for the UAE Government, Dr. Saif Juma Al Dhaheri, Spokesman of the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority, NCEMA, and Salem Al Zaabi, Acting Chief of NCEMA Prosecution, gave an update on the coronavirus-related developments and measures taken to mitigate its impact.

Al Shamsi said that over 37,844 additional COVID-19 tests have been conducted among UAE citizens and residents which resulted in the detection of 832 new cases, taking to 24,190 the total numbers of infections in the country. This includes those receiving treatment, recovered cases, and deaths.

"We are grateful to the health authorities that are working tirelessly to curb the spread of coronavirus, and are pleased to announce daily the numbers of people who recovered and are back to their normal life. However, this pleasure is short-lived when we see a daily increase in the number of infections, due to irresponsible behaviors by some members of the public," said Dr. Amna Al Shamsi.

Al Shamsi added: "We are talking here about a few individuals who are still unaware of the consequences of not adhering to health measures and guidelines and risk the health and safety of others. Irresponsible behavior of a person or two can impact families at large. "

Al Shamsi also announced the death of four patients from COVID-19, taking the total number of deaths to 224. The number of COVID-19 cases still receiving treatment now stands at 14,389 from different nationalities.

"Despite the violations we see everyday, we must thank thousands of citizens and residents who adhere to all guidelines and precautionary measures to protect themselves and others. We are delighted to see that many families are committed to avoiding gatherings and responsibly choosing to participate in events through digital platforms.

Al Shamsi said the measures to partially ease restrictions by re-opening shopping malls and resuming some necessary economic activities were taken to create a balance between meeting the needs of community segments whose sources of income are associated with the commodities trade and between continuing with the recommended preventive and precautionary measures.

Dr. Saif Juma Al Dhaheri, Spokesman of the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, NCEMA, detailed the precautionary measures related to Eid Al Fitr.

He said in the light of the observations made on the effectiveness of measures during the holy month of Ramadan and the increase in the number of cases due to lack of commitment among some members of the community, it was decided to modify the timings of the National Disinfection Programme to be from 08:00 PM to 06:00 AM. The implementation of new timings will start on Wednesday, 27thRamadan until further notice.

Al Dhaheri said that in line with the updated timings of the National Disinfection Programme, relevant authorities have announced a number of measures regulating working hours of butchers, mills, and cafes to operate from 06: AM to 08:00 PM, while taking into full consideration all relevant preventive measures, including wearing of masks, and gloves.

"In light of the growing demand on retail stores during the Eid holiday, food retail stores, cooperatives, groceries, supermarkets and pharmacies will continue to work 24/7 during the National Disinfection Programme," he added.

He underlined the importance of complying with all health and safety guideless, including working at 30 % capacity and keeping 2 meter safety distance to avoid overcrowding.

He added that commercial centres and malls will open from 9.00 am. to 7.00 p.m, effective Ramadan 27, noting that new opening hours for malls will be announced after Eid.

"Relevant authorities have circulated restrictions to be applied by the commercial centres, including denying access to people over 60 years old and children below 12," he added.

"It has been made clear that a shopping trip for any person should not exceed two hours in order to avoid overcrowding and maintain the 30 percent cap on malls’ capacity."

Al Dhaheri highlighted the importance of avoiding family gatherings and visits during this current critical period, advising all community members to better use other means of communications to convey Eid greetings, including social distancing platforms and phone messages and calls.

He also stressed on the necessity of abstaining from handing out Eidiyah (money gifts to children during Eid) or withdrawing money from banks for this purpose during this period, calling for use electronic methods instead. He also called to avoid visiting pregnant women, children, people most susceptible to infections, and those with chronic diseases; who he said, should not be allowed to go to out of their houses and go to public places to ensure their health and safety.

On sports practicing, he said walking; jogging and cycling should be done only near one’s home for up to two hours with a maximum of three people together. While doing so they should take into full consideration all preventive measures, including social distancing of two meters of distance.

Domestic workers should be prevented from meeting anyone outside home, he added, calling for providing them with all preventive and hygiene kits in case of having to receive any type of goods, parcels, etc from outside.

On Eid prayers, Al Dhaheri highlighted the instructions of the Emirates Fatwa Council on performing prayers at home and adhering to all preventive measures, being a religious imperative.

He called on all community members, including Emiratis and residents to abide by all social and health measures, including abstaining from being outdoors unless for absolute necessity.

Additionally, the government also reviewed and updated regulations governing violations and penalties issued by the cabinet to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Counselor Salem Al Zaabi, acting Chief of the Emergency and Crisis Prosecution said some reckless behaviors had been spotted over the past period with some people insisting to commit violations and disregard preventive and precautionary measures taken by the Country to maintain public health. ‘ "Accordingly, the Attorney General issued an updated list of the penalties and violations to cater for the current situation."

Al Zaabi reviewed parts of the updated list which, he said, will be published in full via official government communication channels.

The regulations also provide for continuing closure of educational institutions, cinemas, sports and recreational facilities, open markets, parks, coffee shops, restaurants, beaches, gymnasiums, public swimming pools and hotels swimming pools. They also prohibit receiving any guests at all hotels of the UAE.

The violations related to re-opening include absence of no-contact thermometers or not taking any of the precautionary and preventive measures set by the relevant authorities in each emirate, as well as holding gatherings, meetings, private celebrations.

The regulations define the number of allowed cars and passengers. The only exception is if the passengers belong to the same family or up to second degree relatives. Other violations include not wearing the face mask in closed public places, shopping malls, public transport, while walking in crowded public places, while travelling in a private vehicle with two or more occupants or in shared labour accommodation.

Al Zaabi spoke about fines for not taking appropriate distance when practicing sport or recreational activities in open places, hotel beaches or when taking a walk or gathering in public parks.

The regulations also include violation of refusing to take medical tests or abusing the right to take test or refusing to take the test when asked by a competent authority. There will also be violations for those who go out or commute during the times specified by the authorities, unless for necessary matters like buying foodstuff or medicine or for health emergency, except for the exempted sectors.

The regulations also detail violations for not taking precautionary measures when transporting permitted workers between the different emirates or within the same emirate, like not wearing masks or not keeping a safe distance of at least two meters when getting in or out of the vehicle.

Al Zaabi also highlighted the violation of giving, organizing or facilitating private tuition to students which incurs a fine.

According to the regulations, penalties will be imposed on publishing information on the infected people or those under treatment at the healthcare facilities or for deleting or changing such information. Fines will be doubled for those found to be repeat offenders who will have also their pictures published in media outlets.

The regulations call for referring violators to the NCEMA Prosecution for legal action when repeating the violation of disobeying hospital or home quarantine rules through e-monitoring system. They will be then referred to the court and receive a sentence of imprisonment of no more than six months and/or a fine of AED 100,000, in addition to publishing photos of violators in the newspapers as per the Public Prosecutor's decision.

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