Coronavirus: Dubai health and police chiefs joins calls for public to stay home during Eid to help save lives

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - A senior Dubai health chief has vowed the emirate remains on the “right track” in its fight to contain Covid-19 – but joined nationwide calls urging the public to stay at home during Eid to help flatten the curve.

Humaid Al Qatami, director general of Dubai Health Authority, insisted the rise in cases in recent days can be managed by the emirate’s medical services and highlighted the growing number of recoveries from the virus.

But he admitted officials are looking closely at the reasons behind a spike in cases during Ramadan and are eager for the support of the public in helping to drive down infection rates.

“During Ramadan, through monitoring, we noted an increase in cases," said Mr Qatami during a Dubai media briefing on Thursday.

“Of course we try to understand the reasons behind it. During Ramadan, families visit, it is part of tradition and customs.

“During Eid people get closer to each other. I call upon all citizens and residents in the UAE to comply with all precautionary measures in place. Adopt physical distancing, avoid visits, avoid gatherings and communicate via video and audio calls.”

A maid from the Philippines wears a mask to help stop the spread of the new coronavirus as she walks in front of a newspaper kiosk in central Beirut's commercial Hamra Street, in Beirut, Lebanon. AP Photo

A customer wears a protective face mask while shopping in the plant department at an Ikea AB store in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Bloomberg

A Syrian man waits for customers at a second-hand clothes shop at a flea market in the capital Damascus, Syria. AFP

A Palestinian school girl views her end of year certificate upon receiving it at a school in Gaza City. AFP

Children play at Kugulu Park in Ankara as Turkey allowed children under 14 to leave their homes within walking distance and wearing masks between 11 am and 3 pm. AFP

A volunteer from the International Association for Relief and Development (ONSUR) distributes face masks to internally displaced children, ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, at an IDP camp in Idlib, Syria. Reuters

Children play in a playground in Ankara as Turkey allowed children under 14 to leave their homes within walking distance and wearing masks between 11am and 3pm. AFP

A Palestinian school girl holds up her braid before her mask as she stands inside a school in Gaza City. AFP

Iraqi itinerant barber Hussain Majid gives a haircut to a client at his house in Baghdad, Iraq. EPA

Volunteers wearing protective gear spray disinfectant on a motorist riding a motorbike, in Kabul. AFP

He said the majority of cases in the country remain mild, ensuring undue strain is not placed on hospitals.

“The health sector is in a very good status. The number of cases is normal. We are carrying out tests continuously, especially in areas of high risk, such as labour accommodations.

“We are on the right track, we have a stable increase which will not impact the health system. The average number of recoveries is increasing. Things are getting better.”

Lt Gen Abdullah Al Marri, chief of Dubai Police, said 500 patrols are on the streets every day to ensure members of the public are adhering to stay-home measures.

Coronavirus outbreak

“We are monitoring all violators, those who are being reckless. We thank the public for their commitment but we always wish for better and want full compliance,” he said during the briefing.

He sent out his own message to the community to stay indoors during Eid for the good of themselves, their families and others.

He said hefty fines meted out to those who breach regulations – such as by not wearing masks or going outside during the country’s stay-home hours of 8pm to 6am – should not be viewed merely as punishment but as part of a larger effort to make sure such measures are abided by.

“We are sure UAE residents will be role models in solidarity and harmony. We want to guarantee the implementation of precautionary measures not by 99 per cent of the public but by 100 per cent. Without this we cannot reduce cases and get out of these times with the least loss."

The officials reiterated a plea made just hours earlier by Sheikh .

During his final Ramadan Majlis of the year, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander said it was crucial people remained indoors to help protect the health of the most vulnerable sections of society.

“We want to keep our numbers low and they are starting to be somewhat promising,” said Sheikh Mohamed.

“However, this changed in Ramadan. So what I ask of our residents and citizens is to stay home during the last week of Ramadan and during Eid, especially for older people, children and people with special needs.

“I know it is hard but for us [but] it means saving lives. For us, it means keeping our loved-ones safe.

“We do not want everything that we did in the last months to be in vain due to a simple mistake that would cost us too much.”

UAE officials announced a further 894 new cases of Covid-19 infections late on Thursday, bringing the country’s total to 26,898.

Authorities said 43,000 tests had been carried out in the Emirates since Wednesday, with more than 1.6 million people having now being examined.

New figures also showed another 946 patients had recovered from the disease while four more had died.

To date, the UAE has recorded 12,755 recoveries and 237 dead.

Updated: May 21, 2020 11:21 PM

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