Coronavirus: Abu Dhabi to axe 14-day quarantine for vaccinated airline passengers

Authorities unveil measures for people immunised against coronavirus

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UAE residents who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus will no longer be required to quarantine for 14 days on return to Abu Dhabi from abroad.

The authorities set out a series of special measures for those who have taken part in the UAE-hosted trials of Chinese drug maker Sinopharm and residents who have subsequently been inoculated.

The new guidelines, released by Abu Dhabi's Crisis, Emergencies and Disasters Committee, will also remove the need for PCR and DPI tests when entering Abu Dhabi's borders from within the UAE for those vaccinated.

Officials approved the limited use of the vaccine in September, for people such as frontline health workers or members of the armed forces.

A number of senior Cabinet members, including Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, have already been immunised.

Officials said the new regulations would come into effect after the first dose of the vaccine for participants in the Phase 3 trials and 28 days after the second dose for those taking part in the National Vaccination Programme.

All vaccinated residents who are travelling abroad will still be required to take a PCR test before their flights.

On their return to the capital, participants in the Phase 3 trials must take a PCR test on arrival.

Participants in the National Vaccination Programme are mandated to take the nasal swab on arrival, plus on the fourth and eighth day after they have landed.

All residents who have received a vaccination must continue to take a PCR test every two weeks, under the guidelines.

The UAE hosted a Phase-3 trial – approved by the World Health Organisation – that involved 31,000 volunteers in the Emirates, Bahrain and Jordan.

A clinic was set up at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre to manage the trial, which began in July. Another was later established in Sharjah.

Hundreds of medical staff also came forward to lend their support to the project.

Minister of Health and Prevention Abdulrahman Al Owais approved the emergency use of the vaccine after encouraging results in clinical trials.

"The results of studies during the final stages of the third phase showed that the vaccine is effective and resulted in a strong response and the generation of antibodies to the virus," Mr Al Owais said in September.

"Studies on the safety of the vaccination have been reviewed and showed that it is safe for use."

Dr Nawal Al Kaabi, chairwoman of the National Clinical Committee for Covid-19, said volunteers felt only minor symptoms, such as a sore throat.

Sinopharm said last week that close to one million people had taken its vaccine through its emergency-use programme.

The results of the Phase-3 trial have not been independently reviewed in a published article yet, but a study in The Lancet Infectious Diseases last month showed strong results from Phases 1 and 2, including in people older than 60.

Earlier this month, officials said that more than 30,000 members of the armed forces and national service recruits were vaccinated against Covid-19.

Brig Gen Dr Aysha Al Dhaheri, commander of the Medical Services Corps, said the campaign was vital to safeguarding military personnel in the face of the pandemic.