Coronavirus: UAE health authorities encourage vaccination as Covid-19 cases rise

Officials say best defence is immunisation and that new strains are being monitored

As Covid-19 cases rise across the globe, health authorities in the UAE have encouraged the public to be vaccinated.

During the country’s regular briefing, Dr Farida Al Hosani, spokeswoman for the Emirates’ health sector, said cases in the country had risen in recent weeks due to local infections and also international travellers.

She said a new, more contagious strain of the virus first found in Britain, which has caused a spike in cases worldwide, had been detected in the UAE.

“This was expected, but what is most important now is that we continue our efforts to protect ourselves against the virus,” she said.

She said researchers were working to learn more about the strain and how to best tackle it while health authorities monitored cases.

At the beginning of the outbreak, we had no cure. Now we do and we encourage you all to get vaccinated

Above all, she said, vaccines are “one of the most important solutions we have available to prevent the spread of the virus and its severity”.

Dr Al Hosani said the current rise in cases worldwide had exceeded the percentage of infections recorded during the first wave.

“This is a global concern,” she said.

Local authorities will continue to follow the country’s early-detection strategy by conducting mass screenings and contact tracing, and enforcing quarantine measures for anyone who comes into contact with a positive case.

She said health systems around the world had come under immense strain from the virus but that the UAE had been proactive by increasing its capacity early on.

“The community role has also been crucial to this success with members of the public adhering to safety measures,” she said.

In the UAE, the focus has now turned to ensuring the highest possible percentage of the population is vaccinated.

Two free and voluntary immunisation drives are under way in the UAE.

The Sinopharm vaccine is available to all adults across the country while the Pfizer-BioNTech is authorised for use in Dubai for elderly or otherwise clinically vulnerable people.

On Tuesday, Dr Al Hosani thanked medical staff for their work to administer about 1.3 million doses of the vaccines.

She said they were available at more than 152 centres and that home visits would be conducted for elderly Emiratis and residents, if requested.

Dr Al Hosani also took a moment to remember the people who died after contracting the virus.

“At the beginning of the outbreak, we had no cure. Now we do and we encourage you all to get vaccinated.”