UAE authorities have called on the public to adhere to safety measures while celebrating Eid Al Adha, after revealing that 47 people in one family contracted the virus because they gathered together.
Abdulrahman Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, said it was the responsibility of Emiratis and residents to uphold physical distancing, wear face masks and maintain good personal hygiene, describing these acts as “a national duty and obligation”.
He called on the public not to undo the good work of the “frontline heroes”, which is evidenced by the decrease in daily case numbers and increase in overall recoveries.
“These are hard times, it’s true, but hopefully we will celebrate occasions [such as Eid Al Adha] as we did previously, in future,” Mr Al Owais said during a televised address.
“The measures are simple but leave a positive impact. We cannot waste our progress.”
Authorities revealed that five outbreaks of Covid-19 were traced to family events, with 47 infections in one family alone.
Some caught the virus at a wedding, while others attended a funeral and did not follow safety measures prescribed by the government.
Dr Omar Al Hammadi, a spokesman for the weekly government media briefing, said hefty fines would be imposed on those found not observing physical distancing for the duration of Eid Al Adha.
“During Eid, we kindly ask you to comply with precautionary measures and congratulate others with words [rather than embracing family],” he said.
Dr Al Hammadi said visits must be limited to first and second-degree relatives and that people should wear face masks and keep a minimum distance of two metres from one another.
He said families must be extra-careful around people in high-risk categories, such as pregnant women, the elderly and people with certain pre-existing conditions.
Families should also refrain from giving children gifts, he said.
“Despite positive indicators, we must still implement these safety measures to curb the spread of the virus. We are still monitoring and recording infections within families because of gatherings and failure to adhere to rules. These gatherings do not help because families do not wear masks,” he said.
Dr Al Hammadi called on parents to closely monitor their children, who may show only mild symptoms of the virus or be entirely asymptomatic.
He said infants were likely to suffer more severe symptoms due to their underdeveloped immune systems.
“Children learn from adults and we must be role models for them by adhering to measures and practising personal hygiene,” he said.
Asked whether men were more likely to contract Covid-19 than women, Dr Al Hammadi said that global figures show that the majority of coronavirus patients were men.
“We have noticed that the largest number of cases are in men and the death rate is higher among men than in women,” he said.
Dr Al Hammadi said many social and biological factors influence who contracts the virus and how they are affected.
“Some studies showed that men are more likely to have heart disease or diabetes. Men smoke more than women, so the impact will be greater on them than in women,” he said.
He said women often had stronger immune systems than men.
“Men are more engaged in social activities and are therefore more exposed.”
Despite the prevalence among men, he said it was impossible to draw a direct link between someone’s sex and their susceptibility to the virus because many variables are involved.
He said people who smoke were more likely to contract Covid-19 and have more severe symptoms.
“Smoking does effect the chances of recovery and leads to complications since Covid-19 is a respiratory disease. If lungs are damaged by smoking then they are less likely to completely recover.”
He said the recovery period was different for each patient and depended on their age, health and how quickly the virus was diagnosed.
On Monday, the UAE identified 264 new cases of the coronavirus after conducting 47,299 more tests.
The new infections raised the country’s tally to 59,177. Authorities said 328 people recovered from the virus while one patient died due to complications.
As it stands, 52,510 people in the UAE have recovered from Covid-19 and the country’s death toll has reached 352. The number of active cases is currently 6,322.
Since the outbreak, more than 4.8 million coronavirus tests have been conducted across the Emirates.