The war against Covid-19 is entering its most challenging phase yet. Previously specialist terms such as “mRNA” and “herd immunity” have entered common parlance. Ordinary people seem more aware of intricate epidemiological phenomena, such as viral spike protein mutations, and their impact on global inoculation efforts.
The role of complex science in ensuring a recovery from Covid-19 can make a non-expert feel as though they have no role to play in the fight. This ignores the most important part of our efforts to beat the pandemic. The path to recovery will not be carved exclusively in university departments and research labs. Simple but effective actions taken on an individual basis in everyday life are the most essential. The real front line remains in homes, offices, schools and shops around the world. Our most important weapons are washing hands, keeping physical distancing and wearing masks.
Face masks, for example, are a vital part of reducing virus transmission from one infected person to another. By simply wearing one, people help to protect the whole of society.
This needs to be stressed the world over. Even in countries such as the UAE that have managed the pandemic and vaccination better than others, a full recovery will take time.
And cases in the Emirates continue to rise. On Sunday, Dubai’s police chief said that illegal family gatherings and house parties – some of which have involved upwards of 80 people – are pushing up infections. On Thursday, the UAE recorded almost 4,000 new cases.
Increasing transmission rates have led to Dubai authorities updating their travel regulations. From January 31, all incoming international passengers, regardless of their point of origin, will have to show evidence of a negative PCR test before boarding. Some will have to take a second one after landing.
Abu Dhabi continues to make use of medically approved wristbands to enforce home quarantine for new arrivals, and has updated its guidance for vaccinated people to continue getting tested for infection weekly. Being vaccinated, as public health officials have stressed, may protect one from a severe case of Covid-19, but it does not prevent them from infecting others.
Sharjah is building a field hospital to treat serious cases of Covid-19 and boost capacity. The hospital, which will be ready in a month, is set to accept patients from anywhere in the country.
Discipline remains as important as it was at the beginning of the pandemic. In the early days of the virus, residents of the UAE rigidly adhered to regular hand washing, physical distancing and other public health guidelines. Nearly a year on, we must maintain this spirit. The passage of time has not made the virus less infectious. In some of the new strains, it is even more so.
The UAE has been, in recent weeks, in the fortunate and rare position of enjoying life without lockdown. That sense of normality is, in the current global climate, a luxury, and it can be savoured now only because of the decisiveness and discipline that the country has maintained since the pandemic’s first peak. The public’s mindfulness thus far has also prevented large numbers of tragic and needless deaths.
The message is clear: you do not have to be an expert to do your bit, and what you do makes an impact. Wear a mask, wash your hands and keep maintaining a safe distance.