UAE public urged to celebrate holidays responsibly amid rise in Covid-19 cases

From fewer than 50 cases per day in early December, daily infections rose to 452 on Tuesday

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The government has urged the public to take “social responsibility” this holiday season amid a significant rise in Covid-19 cases.

Officials asked people to wear masks, follow social distancing rules and exercise caution at social occasions, but set out no further restrictions during the televised briefing on Tuesday evening.

Daily infections have risen ninefold since December 6, when only 48 cases were reported.

On Tuesday, the Emirates reported 452 new infections, reversing the downward trajectory seen from October until two weeks ago.

“We call upon members of society to co-operate and adhere to preventive measures by committing to wearing masks, staying away from crowded places and maintaining personal hygiene,” said Dr Noura Al Ghaithi, a health spokeswoman for the government.

“Society’s health is a priority and is everyone’s collective responsibility.

“It’s a social responsibility to preserve the gains that the country has made toward sustainable recovery.”

Cases are rising globally because of the spread of new variants, leading to lockdowns in several countries this week and other restrictions elsewhere.

Dr Al Ghaithi said the UAE’s high vaccination rate – more than 90 per cent is fully immunised – would help to protect the public, but that each person must play a role.

She said thousands of hospital places were available if needed, and that “only 3 per cent of beds are occupied by Covid patients”.

She urged all eligible individuals aged 18 years and above to take the booster dose after six months of the second dose.

“Vaccinations significantly reduce the risk of disease, its complications, and deaths, and have an effective role in stopping mutagens from appearing,” she said.

“The booster dose is important. It significantly boosts the body’s immunity to fight the virus.”

Dr Al Ghaithi reminded the public that being vaccinated did not mean becoming lax in following safety measures, which is critical to fighting the virus.

“We would like to recall that taking the vaccine does not mean not adhering to preventive and precautionary measures such as wearing masks, hand hygiene, maintaining physical distance, and following other approved protocols,” she said.

On Monday, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organisation, said there was “consistent evidence that Omicron is spreading significantly faster than the Delta variant”, which caused a wave of infections around the world this year.

“It is more likely people vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 could be infected or reinfected,” he said in Geneva.

Dr Tedros called for nations to redouble efforts to help end the pandemic.

Omicron cases have surged in Europe and North America in recent weeks.

It is now the dominant version of the virus in the US, accounting for 73 per cent of new infections last week, federal health officials said on Monday.

Updated: December 21, 2021, 3:20 PM