Sharjah crisis chief says further restrictions could be needed to win Covid-19 fight

Senior officer thanked the public as new safety measures were rolled out

A health worker prepares an injection of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against the coronavirus at a vaccination centre, set up at the Dubai International Financial Center in the Gulf emirate of Dubai, on February 3, 2021.  The United Arab Emirates, which includes Dubai and six other emirates, has suffered a spike in cases after the holiday period.
It was among the first to launch a vast vaccination campaign in December 2020 for its population of nearly 10 million and has administered at least three million doses to more than a quarter of its population, second only to Israel in the global race, according to the German data agency Statista.
 / AFP / Karim SAHIB

Sharjah's crisis chief has praised the public for backing efforts to drive down Covid-19 infection rates - but warned further restrictions could be required to overcome the pandemic.

Lt Col Hamdan Al Tunaiji, head of the emergency and crisis department at Sharjah Police, said communities have largely obeyed safety measures implemented to limit the spread of the virus.

Last week, the emirate introduced a raft of new restrictions, including cutting capacity at malls to 60 per cent and limiting numbers on public transport and at cinemas, entertainment venues, gyms, private beaches and swimming pools to 50 per cent.

All concerts and musical shows were postponed for four weeks as part of the directives.

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Some countries have resorted back to lockdowns therefore we say that the public is a key factor in fighting this crisis

The move led to the postponement of shows at Al Majaz Amphitheatre and the recently-opened Khor Fakkan Amphitheatre featuring international singers.

“The latest updates made will not be the last because the pandemic forced a new reality on all crisis and disaster teams across the world,” said Lt Col Al Tunaiji during a radio broadcast in Sharjah.

He said authorities must "analyse and revise rules" depending on the level of infections at any given time, revealing regulations were tightened in response to a rising number of positive tests.

He stressed the support of the public was key to limiting the number of restrictions imposed on every day life.

“Some countries have resorted back to lockdowns, therefore we say that the public is a key factor in fighting this crisis and bringing the number of cases down,” he said.

The senior officer said members of the public had come forward to report breaches of Covid-19 rules, indicating their understanding of the necessity of such measures.

“We have honestly received a large number of emails from members of the public notifying us of violations, which means people are demonstrating awareness.”

He said patrols had been stepped up to monitor the compliance of the public.

“We don’t aim to issue fines and our concern is to reduce the numbers of infections and protect the public therefore we appeal to them to adhere to measures,” he said.

At a media briefing last week, it was revealed that more than 30,000 breaches of safety rules had been reported this year.

Dr Saif Al Dhaheri, spokesman for the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, said most offences involved people failing to wear face masks or adhere to social distancing practices and taking part in gatherings.

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