ABU DHABI, 22nd June, 2020 (WAM) — Health authorities carried out 40,876 new tests for COVID-19 on Monday, resulting in 378 new cases being detected.
The UAE Government announced on Tuesday that the latest COVID-19 tests were carried out among UAE citizens and residents, with the new cases bringing the total number of infections in the country to 45,303. This figure includes patients currently receiving treatment, recovered cases, and deaths.
Dr. Amna Al Dahak Al Shamsi, official spokesperson for the UAE Government, said one patient had died from COVID-19, taking the total number of fatalities to 303.
“The number of COVID-19 cases still receiving treatment now stands at 11,954 from different nationalities,” she added.
Authorities also announced that an additional 631 patients have now fully recovered after receiving all necessary medical care, raising the total number of recoveries to 33,046.
Dr. Al Shamsi provided the latest update on coronavirus-related developments and measures being taken to mitigate its impact and speed up recovery rates at the regular media briefing.
Also in attendance were Alanoud Abdullah Al Hajj, spokesperson of the Ministry of Education, and Saif Juma Al Dhaheri, spokesman of the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority, NCEMA.
Dr. Al Shamsi said that during all stages of the COVID-19 crisis, the UAE has adopted best practices to combat the virus and as a result has become an example and role model in leadership for other countries.
She added that the UAE has maintained a balance between preventive and precautionary measures in order to fully meet the humanitarian and psychological needs of not only individuals, but of UAE society as a whole.
Dr. Al Shamsi stressed that the country’s health sector is continuing to implement and expand the scope of testing being carried out across the Emirates thanks to the brave work of its medical heroes working on the frontline.
Al Hajj outlined efforts being taken by the Ministry of Education to examine the possibility of classes resuming for all students by the beginning of the new academic year by providing a safe, healthy and stimulating learning environment.
The Ministry has prepared an integrated plan to discuss the possibility of resuming classes at kindergartens, schools and universities in accordance with strict restrictions and preventive measures, said Al Hajj Educational institutions must adhere to all safety measures, she said, adding that this move comes after careful study of the health situation and within a framework of a gradual return to normalcy carried out in cooperation and coordination with authorities across the country.
As part of the requirements set by the Ministry, daily temperature checks must be carried out for all students, including teaching and administrative staff, as well as school employees. Support and maintenance services will not be allowed in school buildings during teaching hours.
Social distancing protocols must be applied at all times and classrooms opened at a reduced capacity, in addition to sterilising works periodically carried out in all buildings, classrooms, laboratories and other facilities.
Al Hajj also stated that students’ food and mealtimes should be carefully organised and managed to prevent sharing and groups of youngsters from gathering. Activities such as school trips, celebrations, sports and student camps will also be suspended.
Seating capacity on school busses should not exceed 30 per cent in order to meet social distancing rules, while each passenger, including students, must have their temperature checked before boarding.
University dorms will also be organised and opened according to precautionary rules and restrictions, while all educational institutions should have a designated health official on hand to teach safety measures, to help maintain a safe environment and reduce any risks to students.
Al Hajj said all educational institutions and parents have a shared responsibility to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students.
“Parents must make sure that their children are fit and healthy before taking them to school and immediately notify the school of any possible symptoms or if the children came into contact with a COVID-19 patient.”
She added that the Ministry is taking appropriate action to provide the necessary care to all students with underlying medical conditions as they are at higher risk of exposure to diseases.
Al Hajj said the Ministry aims to provide the highest standards of safety to students as well as teaching and administrative staff.
“This plan was developed as part of the preparedness and proactive measures to examine the possibility of resuming regular schooling in the UAE. Any updates on this will be announced, based on the developments of the health situation,” she said.
Al Hajj also expressed the Ministry’s appreciation for the efforts and commitment made by educational institutions, including government and private universities and schools, as well as teaching and administrative staff, parents and students to the ‘Remote Learning’ system.
Addressing questions about the recently announced travel protocol, Dr. Al Dhaheri emphasised the need for individuals to take information only from reliable and official sources in order to avoid spreading rumours and false news.
The recent decision to allow certain categories of citizens and residents to travel to select destinations does not apply to everyone.
“Countries and destinations are divided into three categories: low risk, moderate risk and high risk, according to the epidemiological situation in these countries,” said Dr. Al Dhaheri.
He advised anyone planning to travel to first contact airlines for up to date information in order to determine whether or not travel to their destination is allowed.
Authorities in the UAE are constantly monitoring the health situation across the globe while taking into consideration that most countries are currently keeping their airspace closed.
“The authorities are engaged in discussions and coordination with these countries about this matter,” added Dr. Al Dhaheri.
Answering a question about the possibility of travel for an average family (consisting of a father, mother and children) for medical treatment or to visit first relatives, he said: “In this case, the family is allowed to travel based on the category of the destination country, while taking the standard preventive measures and getting permission to travel.”
On whether it is necessary for returning travellers to undergo a 14-day quarantine even if their COVID-19 test result is negative, Dr. Al Dhaheri said quarantine is mandatory, with penalties to be levied against violators.
“The quarantine period is a must even if the person tested negative. Upon his/her return from travel, the person must undergo a 14-day quarantine,” said Dr. Al Dhaheri.
“The quarantine period may be shortened to seven days for travellers arriving from countries with lower risk or for professionals in critical sectors. In all cases, all mandatory provisions and precautionary measures should be followed to ensure that the person and the people around them are in good health.”
Explaining how people returning to the UAE will be monitored to ensure they adhere to quarantine, Dr. Al Dhaheri said each traveller must fill in the required individual health accountability form, which includes an agreement to undergo quarantine, and to download and activate the Ministry of Health and Prevention’s AL HOSN app on their mobile phone.
Regarding people seeking to travel to their native country, even if it is classified as a low-risk destination, Dr. Al Dhaheri said an application must still be submitted through official channels or via the website: www.smartservices.ica.gov.ae.
Once the application is made, the traveller will be notified of approval based on the risk category of their desired destination and reasons for travel, whether for medical treatment, visiting first degree relatives or for official military or diplomatic missions. Approval also depends on the health regulations and provisions at the destination.
“The travel protocol aims, first and foremost, to protect all family members and to curb the spread of COVID-19. All processes and provisions related to the protocol are subject to updates and it is necessary that everyone must adhere to it so we can overcome the pandemic together.”
Dr. Amna Al Dahak said that each stage of the COVID-19 pandemic comes with different challenges, but cooperation and commitment remain the best way to overcome these exceptional circumstances and to maintain the UAE’s position as an oasis of safety and security.
WAM/Hassan Bashir/ Hazem Hussein WAM/Binsal AbdulKader/Tariq alfaham