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Covid-19, the new strain of coronavirus has undoubtedly created a world epidemic, and its effects are still being grappled with globally. Pandemic outbreaks have occurred before on numerous occasions, and they have had a crippling effect on the world economy. However, never before the world has collectively experienced such a bottleneck effect on international trade and shipping. The underlying causes are numerous and include factory closures, supply shortage, transit and payment delays, to name a few. Many businesses have been pushed to the brink of bankruptcy in increasing numbers worldwide. The virus and its causes were relatively unknown before 2019, and two years down the lane, the world is still recovering from its effects.
In comparison with the rest of the world, the UAE has however, led the vaccine race and has been at the forefront, taking proactive measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the people. The UAE currently leads the world nations in the number of Covid-19 vaccines administered, with 96% of its population being fully vaccinated. This is a staggering achievement, and combined with the Covid-19 protection measures, the country has successfully brought life close to normal, with residents being able to enjoy a more accessible and healthier environment compared to many other nations.
Al Hosn Application:
The UAE government has introduced the Al Hosn application, which functions as the official application of the government for both contact tracing, as well as health status updates related to Covid-19. The application serves as the e-platform facilitating the following measures:
- COVID-19 test results and a recording of all previous Covid-19 results with their respective dates
- Notification if one has been in contact or is confirmed with a case of Covid-19
- All information concerning Covid-19 vaccination showing the type of vaccine taken and the certification authenticating the dosage and the number of vaccines taken.
Latest Health protocols:
The health system in the UAE provides both governments funded as well as private health facilities, able to provide a comprehensive health care solution. The emergency response system is managed by the National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA). The covid-19 precautionary measures are strictly enforced within the UAE, with violations inviting hefty penalties. The NCEMA has recently introduced the new covid-19 countermeasures and health protocol which will be in effect from 1 March 2022.
- Close contacts: Mandatory quarantine requirement for close contacts of Covid-19 has been removed.
- Quarantine for infected: The quarantine requirements for those infected by CoviD-19 are still in place, with the only change that those in quarantine are no longer required to wear wristbands with location tracking feature as previously mandated.
- Social distancing and use of face masks: Mask-wearing still remains mandatory in public indoor spaces; however, has now been made optional outdoors.
- Emirate level flexibility : Each emirate has been accorded the flexibility to determine the duration of the quarantine period and the PCR tests for Covid contacts in their respective sectors and professions, according to the vital sectors indicator. Many emirates followed suit to ensure effective preventive measures, including implementing fixed charges for PCR testing. The emirate of Abu Dhabi has recently announced the fixed price for PCR tests at Aed 40.
- Prayer: The NCEMA has now approved to revert to the pre-pandemic time intervals for prayer calls as well as returning of the holy book to mosques, albeit, with stricter precautionary rules including sterilization measures. All worshippers are required to continue the one-meter distance separation in mosques as well as other places of worship.
- Travelling to UAE: Covid-19 vaccination certification or presenting a negative PCR test result has been the new change effected on this front. Those who are unvaccinated are required to submit an approved negative PCR test result taken within 48 hours of the travel. While anyone who is currently infected needs to submit a QR code-accompanied certificate of recovery from a Covid-19 infection obtained within one month from the date of travel.
- Sporting activity: The new announcements have also approved all sports activities for all age groups. Public sporting events are however, required to adhere to the green pass protocol as well as to wearing of masks in all outdoor and indoor spaces as per the turnout for the said events.
The newly introduced health protocols are a welcome change, one that vouches for the country’s ability to lead by example in systematic handling of the covid-19 crisis. While introducing the new rules, the government has also stressed upon continued public responsibility of the people to adhere to the preventive measure (though now more relaxed) in place. The focus now remains to achieve a full return to normalcy.