Dubai hospitals were told to cancel all non-essential surgery for a month after a surge in Covid-19 cases in the UAE.
Dubai Health Authority on Wednesday said all healthcare services should halt elective operations that “require deep sedation or general anaesthesia”.
The same decision was made last March to protect at-risk patients and release equipment such as ventilators.
Hospital directors are being asked to update a portal twice a day to tell the DHA how many beds they have available.
The new instruction comes into force at midnight on Thursday and will remain in place until February 19.
Procedures must be carried out only per "medical urgency and necessity" at the discretion of the doctor, DHA said on its website.
Despite the recent rise in cases, private hospitals have not yet been asked to take Covid-19 patients.
During the first wave last year, private hospitals across the city opened up wards and used their medics to help fight the pandemic.
On Wednesday, the UAE reported 3,506 new cases of Covid-19 – the highest number of daily infections to date, and a new record for the ninth consecutive day.
The new cases were detected from 162,945 tests.
Dr Adel Al Sisi, chief medical officer at Prime Hospital in Garhoud, which had specialist Covid-19 wards at the height of the pandemic, said staff were preparing to take Covid patients again, should the authorities ask them to do so.
“Suspended elective surgeries also happened during the first wave of March and April, so it is expected,” he said.
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“It helped reduce the number of positive cases in our staff
“It is for their safety, and of the community, to prioritise the equipment for those who need ventilation and oxygen.”
Those who are intubated are at higher risk of infection, so by restricting these procedures for a period of time doctors can focus more on those infected and in need of beds and machines.
“All healthcare facilities are prepared, but it is different now as Covid is no longer new,” Dr Al Sisi said. “We know what the treatment is and what precautions are needed.
“We have experience, so all our teams are alert and ready to control this second wave.”
On Tuesday, the health authority halted testing in several major malls and directed the public to visit dedicated screening centres instead.
PCR testing stations in The Dubai Mall, Nakheel Mall and Mirdif City Centre are closed, as are the stations at Al Hamriya Port Majlis and Al Shabab Al Ahli football club.
Walk-in testing services are still available at Deira City Centre and Mall of the Emirates.
Appointments are required at DHA clinics at Rashidiya Majlis, Jumeirah 1 Port Majlis and Al Nasr Club, as well as at private hospitals.
The UAE is pushing ahead with a mass inoculation campaign against Covid-19 after approving the Sinopharm vaccine for widespread use in December, and the Pfizer-BioNTech shot for limited use in Dubai.
The country has administered more than two million doses of the vaccine and the government aims to inoculate at least 50 per cent of the population by the end of March this year.