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COVID-19 recoveries rise to 11809; 941 new cases identified

20 May, 2020: The UAE Government announced on Wednesday that over 43,732 additional COVID-19 tests have been conducted among UAE citizens and residents which resulted in the detection of 941 new cases, taking to 26,004 the total number of infections in the country. This includes those receiving treatment, recovered cases, and deaths. A total of 1018 patients have fully recovered from COVID-19 after receiving the necessary medical care, raising the total number of recoveries in the country to 11809.

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), Dr Farida Al Hosani, the Spokesperson for the Health Sector, and Imam Abdurrahman Al Shamsi, spokesman for the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments (Awqaf), gave an update on the coronavirus-related developments and measures taken to mitigate its impact.

During the briefing Dr. Amna Al Shamsi also announced the death of six patients from COVID-19, taking the total number of deaths to 233. "The number of COVID-19 cases still receiving treatment now stands at 13,962 from different nationalities," she added.

Dr Saif Al Dhaheri said all decisions related to modifying the timings of the National Disinfection Programme are taken following a holistic review of the current conditions. "We take into consideration the readiness of various sectors to receive the public and ensure their safety, especially retail outlets and shopping malls. Their compliance with the precautionary measures, including maintaining safety distance and placing a cap on staff and customers' numbers is of paramount importance. We must ensure a balance between business continuity and public safety needs," he explained.

"Since the onset of the crisis, the majority of UAE society has been living up to responsibility, setting an honourable example of compliance with preventive measures and collaboration with the government in implementing all measures required. We are certain this cooperation on the part of our citizens and residents will persist during the Eid holiday."

"However," he adds, "there are some violations perpetrated by some who fail to comply with the decision to ban congregations and to abide by quarantine measures. These violations are committed by a limited number of individuals who we request abide by all measures put in place. We will continue to spare no effort to enhance public awareness and educate people on the danger of these violations."

"It is incumbent on everyone to abide by the COVID-19 countermeasures during Eid, as any violations will have an adverse effect on the entire society," he warned. He added that violators will be subject to penalty and disciplinary action.

Al Dhaheri also reiterated the importance of not distributing Eidaya (money gift to children during Eid), citing research which confirmed the virus may be transmitted through banknote.

"The decision to keep malls open for certain hours during Eid came after ensuring they have applied all preventive measures, including working at 30 % capacity, enforcing a two metre safety distance, and prohibiting the entry of people over 60 years of age and children below 12; in addition to restricting the shopping trip for any person to a maximum of two hours," he added.

"Practicing sports is allowed only from 6.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m.," he said, noting that walking, jogging and cycling should be done only near one’s home for up to two hours with a maximum of three people together. Social distancing and the wearing of masks is also mandatory.

For his part, Abdurrahman Al Shamsi, spokesman for Awqaf, said that due to the current exceptional circumstances, the Fatwa Council of the United Arab Emirates has decided that Eid prayers will be performed at home to ensure safety, and mosques across the country will remain closed. All mosques will declare Takbeerat Al Aid (Eid chants) through their microphones 10 minutes prior to the prayer.

He stressed on the importance of celebrating eid while entirely abstaining from physical visits and gatherings to ensure the safety of all, especially the elderly, children and sick people.

For her part, Dr Farida Al Hosani, said the UAE is now among the top countries in terms of COVID-19 screenings per capita. "We are proud of our leadership who have provided free tests to all UAE citizens, residents and other segments of society who are most susceptible to infections."

She also discussed ALHOSN UAE app for smart phones, which can be downloaded on Android and IOS devices for free. "This is a national initiative aimed at supporting the Government’s efforts to contain the pandemic. The easy to use app combines the benefits of STAY HOME and TRACE COVID, the two apps previously launched by the Department of Health. It guarantees high degree of privacy protection to the users through artificial intelligence and other technological advances.

"However", she added, "the success of this app hinges on the level of usage by our people and how many are using it; which means that its objective won’t be achieved unless 50-70 percent of the UAE population would download and use it in an effective way."

She also referred to the TRACE COVID mechanism, being now applied to identify the individuals who had been in contact with confirmed COVID-19 cases. "If a person tests positive, he/ she will be requested to download secure coding signals over his/her phone to trace down his/her contacts over the previous 21 days in order to identify them," she explained.

TraceCovid uses Bluetooth to pick up signals from nearby mobile phones that also have the app installed. Should someone test positive for the virus, this data can be used to find out who came into contact with them. Once identified, through a process called contact tracing, those people will be asked to self-isolate for two weeks and, if they develop symptoms of the coronavirus, must visit a medical centre for a test.

On whether awareness programmes on strengthening the immunity system of children and elderly should be launched, Al Hosani said the focus is now on elderly people and individuals who are most susceptible to complications, noting that the main advice is for them to keep washing hands and sanitizing surfaces in addition to changing some social habits like handshaking and hugging.

"We have launched supportive initiatives in this regard, including testing these segments of society at home and home delivery of medications as well as providing medical consultations remotely," she added.Al Hosani denied any evidence that the virus may spread through swimming pools.

"We advise people to avoid crowded places and follow preventive measures while using swimming pools, including safety distance and avoiding sharing tools, like towels, chairs, seats, etc."

On the reason of why recoveries are on the rise, she cited four main factors, namely application of state-of-the-art-technology in treating infected people. "The UAE has been among the first countries in the world to adopt the plasma treatment of COVID-19 critical cases as well as using other anti-virus medications," she said.

"The second factor is the intensified screenings to cover the largest possible number of people and detect early infections before isolating them and applying best healthcare methods. The third factor is increasing the occupancy of medical facilities, by dedicating a large number of hospitals, medical centers to treat patients after equipping them with all required human and technical resources. The fourth one is the availability of qualified human cadres, advanced medical equipment, and sufficient medical reserves," she said This increasing number of recoveries would not have been possible without the great efforts made by all those working in the medical sector who have set a model for giving and dedication to preserving the safety of the society and its protection, she continued.

"We have to re-consider our life choices in a way that ensures protection for our beloved ones. True, we are used to interact with each other during Eid and gather together as families and friends; however, the current conditions entail a reconsideration of some aspects of our life; we have to ask ourselves: can we tolerate exposing our families to the danger of this disease?" she wondered.

"The best Eidayha we can give to our beloved ones is to protect them by ensuring safe physical distance, wearing masks, and washing hands with water and soap constantly," she concluded.


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