Abu Dhabi's oldest social club to reopen after an outbreak affecting almost half its 250 staff

In total, 111 employees were infected with the virus over the past month

ABU DHABI - 18JAN2012 - The British Club family and children beach has been closed for swimming due too whilst test being carried out, because of the sewage problem on Abu Dhabi beach. Ravindranath K / The National

Abu Dhabi's oldest social club will partially reopen from Friday after being closed for three weeks because of the high number of Covid-19 cases recorded among its staff.

The Club closed in mid-February after routine testing revealed 28 cases among employees.

The outbreak mushroomed to 111 cases in a staff of 250. The venue carried out a self-imposed "circuit breaker" by closing to protect the health of employees and members.

In an email to members, Mike McGrath, the club's general manager, said 71 of the infected employees were discharged from a government field hospital, while 40 were still there.

No staff member is showing any serious effects of the illness and all those who remain affected are either asymptomatic or mildly affected

Of those discharged, 15 recorded a positive PCR test on Wednesday and will stay in isolation, on and off site, for the time being, he said.

About two thirds of staff live on site.

"I am delighted to say that no staff member is showing any serious effects of the illness and all those affected are either asymptomatic or mildly affected," he said.

“On the premise that there should be no greater risk of transmission of the virus at The Club than in the wider community, we will re-open a number of facilities and services from tomorrow.

“We will announce an extension to these operating hours and reopening details of the remaining facilities in the coming days, as and when more staff become available to work.”

The reopening is supported by authorities, he said.

All staff who work on Friday returned negative results from two PCR tests in the past nine days.

A total of 102 staff have now received their second dose of Covid-19 vaccine, Mr McGrath said.

Another 42 employees, who had the first dose, were unable to take the second dose because they were in isolation after testing positive for Covid-19.

“They will receive this as soon as it is recommended by the health authorities that it is safe to do so,” he said.

"Ninety-six staff have still to receive any vaccine and they are being encouraged to do so when the supplies are available."

He said the club would now move to a new "room-based" regime of PCR testing twice a week.

Several facilities, including the gym and squash and badminton courts, will open from Friday.

Mr McGrath urged members to respect precautionary measures to restrict the spread of the virus, including wearing masks while moving around The Club and following social distancing guidelines.

The closure was only the third time the club shut during its 59-year history. The first time was after the death ofSheikh Zayed, the Founding Father, in 2004.

It also closed after movement restrictions were imposed last March as Covid-19 spread around the world.

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