Here's a round-up of all the latest Covid-19 developments you need to know:
UAE reports 437 new Covid-19 cases, 577 recoveries, 2 deaths
The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Sunday reported 437 new cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, along with 577 new recoveries. Two new deaths were also reported. More than 58,000 new Covid-19 tests have also been carried out, the health ministry said. In a statement, the ministry highlighted its aim to expand the scope of testing nationwide, to facilitate the early detection of Covid-19 cases and carry out the necessary treatment. In the past week, many hospitals in the country were declared Covid-free after discharging their recovered patients. Authorities in the UAE have observed an increase in the number of violations of Covid-19 precautionary measures after the night-time movement restrictions were lifted. This includes failure to wear masks, hosting gatherings and non-adherence to social distancing guidelines.
Sharjah Police provide food, shelter to 280 homeless workers
Over 280 unemployed workers who were living in an under-construction building in Sharjah have been rescued and moved to an air-conditioned accommodation. The Sharjah Police and a charity rushed to their rescue after a Good Samaritan highlighted their plight on a dial-in TV programme called 'Direct Line'. Community organisations said the workers - most of them from India - were staying in the partially constructed building in industrial area number three after losing their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Some of the workers did not have any documents. The workers have now been moved to a police academy in Al Dhaid after directives from Major-General Saif Al Zari Al Shamsi, Commander-in-Chief of the Sharjah Police. The officer said the police are coordinating with the workers' embassies to either repatriate them to their home countries or regularise their visa status.
Returning UAE residents need Covid-negative certificate
All UAE residents currently stuck abroad and wanting to return must complete a Covid-19 test, the UAE government has announced. Those who do not have a Covid negative test taken within 72 hours of take-off will not be permitted to board the aircraft. This is part of the key guidelines announced on Sunday by the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority and the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship for residents with valid visas to return to the country starting July 1. The Covid-19 test should be conducted at accredited laboratories spread across 106 cities in 17 countries worldwide, said the authorities. More countries will be added to the list shortly as part of the second and third phases. Residents can access the list of accredited laboratories on smartservices.ica.gov.ae. The laboratories are aware of the time constraints and will deliver results diligently.
Abu Dhabi helps 180,000 workers fly home after free Covid-19 tests
The Abu Dhabi government has helped more than 180,000 blue-collar workers fly back to their home countries in the past three months, officials said on Sunday. The workers, many of whom lost their jobs to the pandemic, were tested for Covid-19 free of charge, and those who tested positive were treated for free. Authorities also ensured that the repatriated workers received their salaries and end-of-service benefits before they returned. Health authorities last week revealed that 570,000 Covid-19 tests had been conducted across Mussafah, thereby fully containing the spread of the virus among residents, especially blue-collar workers. Authorities noted that workers' welfare was among their priorities amid the Covid-19 situation, and that all necessary support is being extended to them in recognition of their contribution to the nation.
Indian movie actor turns real-life hero for expats stranded in Dubai
After repatriating thousands of stranded Indians from Russia and neighbouring Nepal recently, Indian film actor-turned-politician Deepak Adhikari has now come to the rescue of his countrymen here in Dubai. A community-sponsored chartered flight - a first from Dubai to the Eastern Indian city of Kolkata - took off from Dubai International Airport's Terminal 2 late Sunday evening with 171 passengers on board. Those behind organising the special Indigo 6E9121 flight here said it wouldn't have been possible without the involvement of the Bengali superstar and West Bengal's Ghatal MP, who helped bridge gaps between the centre and state authorities in India for all due approvals on time. "These are unprecedented times and as you can see, no government could have been enough prepared to handle this exigency. So, whatever little we can do to help in any capacity counts at this stage," Adhikari, better known by his screenname Dev, told Khaleej Times over the phone just few hours before the flight was to take off for Kolkata.
Direct sale of Vande Bharat mission tickets begins today
Indian expats who have registered with the Indian missions in the UAE can secure seats on the Vande Bharat mission on a first-come-first-serve basis if they fulfil mandatory conditions to return home, the Indian embassy has announced. They can book their tickets directly on Air India's website www.airindiaexpress.in or through the airline's booking offices in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah and Ajman that are managed by general sales agent Arabian Travel Agency. Tickets can also be booked through authorised Air India Express ticketing agents in Dubai, the embassy said on a social media post. The direct sale of tickets would be available from 7pm, June 28 onwards in flights on the fourth phase of Vande Bharat mission scheduled between July 3 and July 14, 2020. Air India will be conducting 170 flights to and from 17 countries under the fourth phase of the mission.
UAE temporarily suspends all flights from Pakistan
The UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has announced the suspension of all inbound flights from Pakistan, including transit ones. The suspension will be in place till the country establishes a process of laboratory testing for Covid-19 for all departing travellers enroute to the UAE. "This is a precautionary measure to ensure the health and safety of all arrivals as of Monday, June 29, 2020," the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority said late on Sunday. The GCAA called on all travellers affected by the decision to communicate with their airline to reschedule their flights.
UAE cops step up vigil as Covid-19 violations spike
The UAE's gradual and responsible return to normalcy does not give residents the licence to violate the precautionary regulations put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19, Sharjah's police chief has said. The police have stepped up patrolling and vigilance to ensure people follow the rules that will help the country flatten the curve. This came after authorities announced on Saturday that they have noticed an increase in the number of violations after the night-time movement restrictions were lifted. Officers from Sharjah and Ajman told Khaleej Times that they have recorded a "marked increase" in violations, especially hosting gatherings and failure to wear face masks in public spaces. Major-General Saif Al Zari Al Shamsi, Commander-in-Chief of the Sharjah Police, said the force will continue to carry out its duty to spot violators and issue administrative penalties.
Fujairah public beaches, parks to welcome back visitors from tomorrow
Starting tomorrow, June 29, all public beaches and parks in Fujairah will be reopened to visitors. The Fujairah Municipality has taken the step in collaboration with the National Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, sources said. "However, the public is urged to strictly observe all precautionary measures to curb the spread of Covid-19." People must maintain social distancing, wear masks and gloves, use hand sanitisers, along with other safety measures, they said. "It is critical for everyone to act responsibly and stay safe." Last week, Sharjah also allowed its leisure facilities - such as parks, some beaches, pools and cinemas - to welcome back visitors, while the Capital reopened cultural sites, including popular museums like Louvre Abu Dhabi and Qasr Al Hosn.
Stranded visitor gives birth in UAE, family now faces mounting bills and paperwork
Indian expat Mohammed Mosanna Khan brought his pregnant wife and mother to Dubai for a short visit after his father died - little did he know, circumstances would change in snap. His wife Najreen gave birth on June 15. As the couple happily welcomed their first-born, they also had to worry about tonnes of paperwork and the hospital bills they had to settle. Without an attested marriage certificate, Mossana has been unable to obtain the birth certificate for his daughter. So, last week, he decided to seek help from the Indian Consulate in Dubai. Consulate officers and their team have time and gain stepped forward to support Indians in the country, especially during trying circumstances. Neeraj Agarwal, consul for Press, information and culture at the Consulate-General of India in Dubai, said: "We are very keen on assisting people and any couple who are faced with exceptional circumstances and whatever documentation is required to facilitate the process, we are more than happy to help such cases from our end."