Following a dip in the number of fresh infections, the United Arab Emirates has decided to do away with the mandatory mask wearing requirement in select places. The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority announced that wearing a mask is no longer mandatory in the following instances:
- When travelling by a private vehicle and the occupants of the vehicle all belong to the same household.
- When you are at a medical centre
- When you are exercising in a public place
- When you are at the beach or using a swimming pool
- When you are alone in a closed place
- When you are in a beauty centre or a salon
It was 18 months ago that the United Arab Emirates first decided to implement the mandatory mask rule in public places. This was done to combat the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, and the country’s efforts have now borne fruit. It officially now that one of the lowest death rates from the coronavirus worldwide, and also one of the highest vaccination rates in the world as well.
UAE on track to achieving 100% vaccination among residents
92% of all residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 81% are now fully vaccinated [as in having received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine]. The number of fresh infections reported daily has hit a yearly low, and reassuringly, the numbers of those recovering from COVID-19 infection is increasing.
Compared to January of this year, which recorded a high of 3988 infections reported on January 28, August saw a drop in the number of infections reported daily. It fell below 1000 on August 24, and remained that way till the end of the month. Dr. Farida Al Hosani, Director of the Communicable Diseases Department, Health Authority of Abu Dhabi said that this was due to the UAE identifying eligible residents and providing them with booster shots to increase immunity.
Those who have taken the Sinopharm vaccine are eligible for a booster dose six months after receiving the second dose of the vaccine. Dr. Farida Al Hosani urges all those eligible to take their booster shot if they are eligible. She also encourages parents to get their children vaccinated, as vaccines are now available to all age groups. Those who are aged three and above can get the Sinopharm vaccine, while those aged 12 years and older can get the Pfizer vaccine.
Dr. Farida Al Hosani says that the United Arab Emirates has entered the new normal. Employees are returning to their offices, students are returning to their schools, and the capacity of public spaces has increased. She attributes all these developments to responsible behaviour, wearing masks wherever required and practicing social distancing.
Although it was feared that the Eid Al Adha break would be result an increase in the number of infections, residents of the UAE have proved that with adherence to safety guidelines, the worst need not always happen. The United Arab Emirates is now ranked second in the world for its vaccination rate. It is also ranked third globally when it comes to the number of coronavirus tests conducted for every 1000 people in countries with a population greater than 1 million.
The aim remains to reach cent per cent vaccination of the resident population. Dr. Farida Al Hosani believes that vaccines not only prevent infection but also contribute to lesser complications and reduce hospitalization periods. Compared to the unvaccinated, those who have received the vaccine generally do not require to be hospitalized – or ventilators if they do need to be admitted to a hospital.