Monday 21 September 2020 - 11:16:47 am

Daily COVID-19 media briefing: More than 500,000 coronavirus tests conducted till 7th April, more in pipeline, Minister of Health reveals

‏ABU DHABI, 8th April, 2020 (WAM) -- The UAE Government announced that the UAE had conducted a record number of coronavirus tests in a short period, till yesterday reaching 539,195 tests nationwide.

‏The announcement was made by the Ministry of Health and Prevention during a regular media briefing on Wednesday, wherein Abdul Rahman bin Mohammad bin Nasser Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, and Dr. Farida Al Hosani, the official spokesperson for the UAE health sector, highlighted the latest COVID-19 developments in the country and the measures taken by Emirati authorities to combat the spread of the pandemic.

Al Owais said: ''These tests have been conducted in advanced screening centres, and the figure underscores the government's commitment to fighting the novel virus and protecting the health, safety, and wellbeing of the community. It also reflects the robustness of our health systems and the competency of our health professionals. The scale, scope, and number of tests will be doubled in the next stage.''

The Minister expressed his profound gratitude to the doctors, nurses, and paramedics who are on the frontlines of defending the nation against the virus. 

‏''The safety and wellbeing of all is a priority for us. It is a shared national responsibility,'' he added.

‏Al Owais noted the UAE has carried out these tests at a time when the world is experiencing exceptional circumstances in which UAE citizens and residents have shown 
‏cohesion and solidarity, as well as adherence to preventative measures announced by the government.   

‏''The UAE will continue to take measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. The health sector's top priority has been to conduct as many tests as possible, which resulted in the early detection of infected cases by tracing contacts and isolating them,'' he said.

Dr. Farida Al Hosani announced the detection of 300 new coronavirus cases among various nationalities, taking the number of infections in the country to 2,659.

‏The UAE Government also announced the full recovery of 53 patients after receiving the necessary medical care, raising the total number of patients who recovered to 239 to date. 

‏‏Dr. Farida Al Hosani said the new cases were detected upon examining people who came in contact with previously infected patients and did not adhere to preventative measures and quarantine protocols or maintain sufficient physical distance. Others, she added, were individuals who came into the country from travels abroad.

‏''The newly diagnosed patients of various nationalities are in a stable condition and receiving the necessary medical care,'' Dr. Al Hosani affirmed.

‏Speaking about the latest developments in the local labour market during the media briefing, Abdullah Ali Al Nuaimi, Acting Undersecretary for Communication and International ‏Relations at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, stated that the labour market was among the sectors directly affected by the ‏coronavirus’ spread.

Al Nuaimi also noted that the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation launched the National Program for Labour Market Stabilisation to ensure business continuity in the private sector in light of a series of precautionary measures taken at the federal level to contain the spread of COVID-19.

‏According to Al Nuaimi, the program includes measures to support employers and workers in the private sector, both nationals and residents, in an integrated manner with economic support packages provided by the state, in a bid to reduce the impact of precautionary measures on the national economy. It also includes a set of measures to protect private sector workers from COVID-19.

‏''The program, prepared by the Ministry in coordination with the National Crisis Emergency and Disasters Management Authority, features three pillars: workforce, Emiratisation, and administrative support for private sector companies,'' he explained.

‏With regard to workforce protection, Al Nuami said that private sector companies were advised to reduce the congregation of employees in workplaces, service centres, and employee transportation.

‏Al Nuaimi added that the Ministry has reduced the attendance of workers in private sector establishments to the minimum necessary for the conduct of business so that the percentage of workers whose work requires being in the workplace does not exceed 30 percent of the total number of employees in an establishment. Establishments operating in vital sectors like health, food, industry, energy, and finance were exempted.

‏''The number of customers at service delivery centres should not exceed 30 percent of the total capacity, and preventative health measures should be applied,'' he added.

‏These measures also oblige private sector entities to implement a mechanism to safely transport workers to and from their workplaces, ensuring that the number of transported workers does not exceed 25 percent of a given vehicle’s seating capacity. Employers should also ban gatherings and the convening of cultural, social, and sporting activities at workers’ accommodations while minimising the number of workers present during mealtimes and maintaining at least a two-metre space between every two workers.

‏The Ministry, he said, has issued a temporary guide regulating remote work in private establishments in such emergencies, wherein employer obligations include the provision of the necessary technical tools to perform work remotely using smart platforms.

‏On Emiratisation, he said the Ministry has set up a special committee to look into the complaints of nationals working in the private sector and follow up on their cases in coordination with the relevant federal and local government authorities

‏''MoHRE is preparing support packages aimed at enhancing the job security of nationals working in various economic sectors while reducing operational and administrative burdens on private sector companies, especially those most affected by the economic impact of preventative measures in place.”

WAM/Tariq alfaham/Hatem Mohamed