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UAE: Frontline doctors urge people to wear masks, not to let their guard down

Khaleej Times logo Khaleej Times 15/05/2021 Ashwani Kumar
a couple of people that are standing in the rain holding an umbrella: UAE: Frontline doctors urge people to wear masks, not to let their guard down © Provided by Khaleej Times UAE: Frontline doctors urge people to wear masks, not to let their guard down

Despite an encouraging trend of declining new Covid-19 caseloads and more than 72 per cent of the population vaccinated, frontline doctors urge people not to let their guards down and continue wearing masks and taking precautionary measures.

On Saturday, the UAE reported 1,321 new cases – the lowest ever so far this year. And since April there has been a constant slide in the recorded infections. Also, till date nearly 11.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered.

Separately, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in its updated guidelines advised that fully-vaccinated people need not wear masks or follow safe-distancing while outdoors and indoors.

However, medical experts in the UAE, alarmed by the deadly variant of the Indian virus, have stressed that community members must remain cautious.

Asked when one can expect the UAE to go mask-free, Dr Sarla Kumari, specialist physician, Canadian Specialist Hospital in Dubai, said the safety measures are likely to continue till the end of the year.

"It is very difficult to say at the moment, when the UAE will announce that there is no longer a need to wear masks. I think it's too early to allow people to go without a mask, including those who are vaccinated. Even though we have a very high percentage of vaccinated people, we need to slow down (on change in guidelines). We need to follow the same precautions. We can see the bad wave of Covid-19 in India. Till we have a very few new cases and vaccination covers more than 90 per cent of the population, we need to take precautions. I believe this will be by the end of this year."

Urging everyone to take the jab, Dr Abner Rivas Abejo, specialist internal medicine, Medeor Hospital, Dubai, underlined there must be no letup in health and safety measures.

"The US CDC may have its own reasons to relax mask guidance for the vaccinated population. However, the health authorities in the UAE maintain that even vaccinated individuals can get infected, but are less likely to develop severe disease leading to hospitalisation. I believe we should still continue the protocols that have made the UAE safe and the measures that have prevented the UAE healthcare system from being overwhelmed and affecting the economy."

Dr Abejo underlined that community members must continue wear masks, sanitise hands and maintain physical distancing.

"Moreover, with the new variant of the virus on a rampage across India, we should not be taking any chances. This is not a time for any experiments. Instead, we must be focusing on raising awareness about the need for taking precautionary measures."

Apart from the vaccination drive, the screening campaign has been successfully held across the country. On Saturday, the Ministry of Health and Prevention announced conducting 161,182 additional Covid-19 tests over the past 24 hours.

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