What are the new updates to health protocols in the UAE?

Covid-19, the novel strain of coronavirus has undoubtedly created a global epidemic, and its effects are still grappling with the world. Pandemic outbreaks have occurred many times before and have had a crippling effect on the global economy. However, never before has the world collectively experienced such a bottleneck effect on international trade and shipping. The underlying causes are many and include factory shutdowns, supply shortages, transit and payment delays, to name a few. Many businesses have been pushed to the brink of bankruptcy in increasing numbers around the world. The virus and its causes were relatively unknown before 2019, and two years later the world is still recovering from its effects.

Compared to the rest of the world, however, the UAE has led the race for vaccines and been at the forefront, taking proactive measures to ensure the safety and well-being of the population. The United Arab Emirates currently leads the world in the number of Covid-19 vaccines administered, with 96% of its population fully vaccinated. This is a staggering achievement, and combined with the protective measures against Covid-19, the country has managed to bring life back to normal, with residents enjoying a more accessible and healthier environment compared to many other countries.

Al Hosn candidacy:

The UAE government has introduced the Al Hosn app, which functions as the government’s official app for contact tracing, as well as health status updates related to Covid-19. The application serves as an electronic platform facilitating the following measures:

  • COVID-19 test results and a record 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 the Covid-19 vaccination indicating the type of vaccine taken and the certificate authenticating the dosage and the number of vaccines taken.

Latest health protocols:

The UAE healthcare system provides both government-funded healthcare facilities and private healthcare facilities, capable of providing a comprehensive healthcare solution. The emergency response system is managed by the National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA). Precautionary measures against covid-19 are strictly enforced in the UAE, with violations carrying heavy penalties. NCEMA recently introduced the new covid-19 countermeasures and health protocol that will be in effect from March 1, 2022.

  • Close contacts: The mandatory quarantine requirement for close contacts of Covid-19 has been removed.

  • Quarantine for the infected: Quarantine requirements for people infected with CoviD-19 are still in place, with the only change that people in quarantine are no longer required to wear wristbands with location tracking functionality as previously mandated.

  • Social distancing and use of face masks: Wearing a mask is still compulsory in indoor public spaces; however, has now been made optional externally.

  • Flexibility at the emirate level : Each emirate has been given the flexibility to determine the length of the quarantine period and PCR testing for Covid contacts in their respective sectors and occupations, according to the Vital Sectors Indicator. Many emirates have followed suit to ensure effective preventive measures, including implementing fixed fees for PCR tests. The emirate of Abu Dhabi recently announced the fixed price of PCR tests at 40 Aed.

  • Pray: The NCEMA has now approved a return to pre-pandemic time slots for calls to prayer as well as the return of the holy book to mosques, but with stricter precautionary rules, including sterilization measures. All worshipers are required to maintain the separation distance of one meter in mosques as well as in other places of worship.

  • Traveling to the UAE: The Covid-19 vaccination certification or presentation of a negative PCR test result was the new change made on this front. Those who are not vaccinated are required to submit an approved negative PCR test result taken within 48 hours of travel. While anyone currently infected must submit a certificate of recovery along with a QR code of a Covid-19 infection obtained within one month of the date of travel.

  • Sports activity : The new announcements also endorsed all sports activities for all age groups. Public sporting events are, however, required to adhere to the green pass protocol as well as the wearing of masks in all outdoor and indoor spaces depending on attendance at said events.

The newly introduced health protocols are a welcome change, a testament to the country’s ability to lead by example in the systematic management of the covid-19 crisis. When introducing the new rules, the government also insisted on the continued public responsibility of the people to respect the preventative (albeit now more relaxed) measure in place. The goal now remains to achieve a full return to normal.

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