Dr. Abdul Rahman bin Mohammad bin Nasser Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, said: "The UAE, five months after the detection of the first Covid-19 case, has become an inspirational model to be followed for proactive measures and effective crisis management."
The minister’s remarks came at the UAE government’s regular media briefing where he, along with Dr. Amna Al Dahak Al Shamsi, official spokesperson of the UAE Government, Dr Saif Dhaheri, the Spokesperson for the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA), and Dr. Farida Al Hosani, official spokesperson for the UAE health sector, provided an update on Covid19 related developments and the measures taken to reduce its impact.
The minister added: "The UAE has proved its ability to address this challenge in a highly effective manner, by relying on its front-line workers and on the compliance of its people with the preventive and precautionary measures."
He continued: "Thanks to the directives of our wise leadership, the UAE now ranks first in the world in terms of screening per capita, hitting the 3 million test mark in a record time."
Since the onset of the crisis, the UAE has been determined to examine the largest possible number of citizens and residents with the average daily tests in the UAE increasing from 25,000 to 40,000.
Addressing the briefing, Al Shamsi commented that more than 39,000 additional Covid19 tests were conducted among UAE citizens and residents, resulting in the detection of 382 new cases and taking the total number of infections in the country to 43,364.
She noted an additional 672 individuals have fully recovered from Covid19, bringing the total number of recoveries to more than 29,537, adding that a total of 13,532 individuals are still being treated, most of whom are in stable condition.
She also announced the death of two individuals as a result of Covid19 complications, taking the total number of fatalities in the country to 295.
Dr. Al Shamsi expressed her sincere condolences to the families of the deceased and wished current Covid19 patients a speedy and full recovery.
Al Shamsi referred to the recent update of guidelines which regulate the operation of shopping malls and retail outlets, highlighting that effective from June 18, only people over 70 years old, instead of 60 years old, are not allowed inside shopping malls, cooperative societies, restaurants, and sports facilities, adding that children aged less than 12 years old will continue to be denied access into these destinations.
Dr Saif Dhaheri, the Spokesperson for the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) announced a series of conditions and measures regulating the travel of citizens and residents effective June 23rd.
"Travel will be allowed to certain destinations according to a strategy that has classified all countries of the world into three categories: the first is classified as low risk nations to which all citizens and residents are allowed to travel. The second is medium-risk nations to which only a limited category of citizens are allowed to travel to in case of emergency, namely for necessary medical reasons, visiting first-degree family members, or for military, diplomatic and official missions. The third are high-risk countries to which travel is categorically banned," he explained.
Dr Saif added that a travel protocol will be enforced under the current circumstances which will rely on a number of tenets, namely public health, medical tests, prior travel registration, quarantine, self-follow-up of traveler’s health status and awareness of the precautionary measures.
He elaborated on a number of mandatory prerequisites that any traveler has to abide by before departure, and upon return to the UAE. These run as follows:
1. All citizens and residents have to apply for a travel request through the Federal Authority for Citizenship and Identity’s website and register in the Twajudi service prior to travel.
2. All travelers to undergo a Covid19 test before travel as the health regulations in the country of destination may require a test result which dates back to no more than 48 hours before the travel date. The test result has to be displayed at the country’s airports via the Alhosn app. Only travelers who tested negative for the virus will be allowed to travel.
3. People aged over 70 years old will not be allowed to travel. People with chronic diseases are also advised not to travel for their safety.
4. An international medical insurance covering the country of destination is a must have for all travelers.
5. Everyone must comply with preventive measures at the airports, including wearing face masks, gloves, constant sanitization of hands and maintaining safe physical distance.
6. People with more than 37.8 C or higher temperature or those with respiratory disease symptoms will be isolated. Any persons suspected to have contracted Covid19 won’t be allowed to travel to ensure his and other’s safety.
7. Emirati and resident travelers must fill the required individual health accountability form, which includes an agreement to undergo quarantine upon return and not to go to destinations other than the ones applied to.
Dr. Saif also highlighted the mandatory provisions to be adhered to upon arriving at the country of destination and before returning to the UAE:
1. If the traveler feels unwell, they should go to the nearest health center and use their health insurance.
2. If travelers have a test for Covid19 in the country of destination and the result is positive, they should notify the UAE embassy at that destination, either through Tawajudi Service or by contacting the embassy. The UAE mission will ensure that Covid19 patients are taken care of and the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention is notified.
Dr. Saif spoke about the mandatory provisions to be adhered to upon return to the country:
1. Everyone must adhere to wearing face masks at all times upon entry.
2. All travelers must show a special form of their itinerary, in addition to the health status form, along with their identification documents.
3. Travelers must ensure they download and activate MoHAP's ALHOSN app on their mobile phones.
4. After return, the traveler must undergo a home quarantine for 14 days after the Covid19 test, which could decrease to seven days for travelers arriving from countries with lower risk or for professionals in critical sectors.
5. Travelers with any symptoms must commit to undergo Covid19 tests in an accredited medical facility within 48 hours of entering the country.
6. If it is not possible to undergo home quarantine, the traveler must commit to self-quarantine in a facility or a hotel and pay all expenses.
Dr. Saif also outlined additional provisions for those on study scholarships, those on medical treatment trips, members of the diplomatic missions and those on business trips, whether from public or private sectors. They should coordinate with the respective authorities.
He added that the procedures will be updated regularly, based on new developments and the health situation on the ground.
Dr. Farida Al Hosani addressed the new developments arising from easing precautionary measures and re-opening businesses and activities in most of the sectors.
She added that under these developments, people are required to adopt a new lifestyle, based on four pillars:
1. Continue the prevention of contracting Covid19 and ensure that all precautionary measures are taken.
2. Boost the body and immune system by eating healthy food and exercising regularly.
3. Raise health awareness and continuously follow the preventive measures and advice by various health authorities.
4. Ensure that people with underlying chronic disease, like diabetes, or cardiovascular and respiratory diseases go for regular medical checks.
Answering media questions, Dr. Al Hosani said a cloth mask can be re-used if the surgical mask is not available.
"It is preferred that the cloth mask is made of cotton and has several layers. It must be washed after every single use."
When asked about the possibility of contracting Covid19 from home delivery of goods and food, she said, it is a universal fact Covid19 is transmitted mainly through direct person-to-person contact while the risk of catching the virus by touching a surface is very minimal.
Therefore, she continued, it is possible to get the infection through bags or packed cans during delivery. "That's why we must follow preventive measures like avoiding direct contact when receiving delivered items and making sure to wash hands and to dispose of all bags, cans, etc."
On transmission via shoes, she said it is unlikely, but as a precautionary measure when in the house with infants or children who can crawl on the floors or play on the ground, surfaces must be disinfected regularly and the occupants must take their shoes off and leave them at entrance of the house.