Addressing the UAE Government’s media briefing in Abu Dhabi on Monday, Dr. Abdul Rahman bin Mohammad bin Nasser Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, hailed the significant role and sacrifices made by the heroes of the country who have been working at the front line of defence in the fight to contain the COVID-19 crisis. The frontline heroes include everyone in the medical sectors and other teams who have been putting continuous efforts to protect society and preserve the health and wellbeing of the public. The minister highlighted the continuous efforts taken by the workers that contributed to the increased recovery rates across the country.
Marking the blessed occasion of Eid Al-Adha, Al Owais further congratulated the frontline heroes, highlighting that many individuals often spend special festive occasions away from their families which serves as a great personal sacrifice asserting that they deserve extraordinary thanks and appreciation.
At the same time, the Minister laid emphasis on the need to follow preventive measures and regulations during the holiday period keeping in mind the ongoing pandemic restrictions. He stressed on strictly following the practice of social distancing on such occasions, asserting that is is the national duty of every individual amid the ongoing crisis.
He called on the community members to adhere to preventive instructions in a bid to overcome the pandemic crisis, maintaining that commitment to simple rules of preventive and precautionary measures can help in creating a positive impact.
Further addressing the briefing, UAE government spokesperson Dr. Omar Al Hammadi emphasized that healthcare workers are willing to provide their assistance and support during the holiday period of Eid, however, stressing the public to follow crucial preventive measures.
Al Hammadi pointed out that the UAE is leading the global efforts in carrying out the maximum number of COVID-19 examinations in relation to the population with more than 47,200 new daily tests. The UAE's total number of infected cases has reached 59,177. However, more than 52,500 people have recovered from the disease with the continuous efforts of the medical sector. As of now, there are 6,322 patients undergoing treatment for the virus.
He went on to highlight that various studies have been carried out implying that COVID-19 symptoms do not differ between children and adults, adding that the symptoms can include difficulties in breathing, a high temperature, and coughing. Furthermore, COVID-19 symptoms are usually less severe among children which can make it difficult for parents to identify them. He went on to suggest the parents to closely monitor their children for any symptom and prevent children with suspected symptoms from visiting the elderly and those with chronic diseases, as they are at crucial risk from the virus. He also explained that children with chronic diseases such as respiratory and congenital heart diseases are at a higher risk to be infected from the virus. However, Al-Hammadi stated that there is reliable evidence that children are more resilient to the disease than adults due to differences in their immunity systems. But he also clarified that children under the age of 1 can develop potential complications due to immaturity of their immune systems, so he advised the parents to take even more cautions to handle the children in this age group.
Al-Hammadi advised the parents to act as good role models for their children while performing the precautionary measures such as social distancing norms, wearing face masks, and taking care of personal hygiene.
He further clarified that even though the number of daily cases is decreasing and there are high rates of recovery, the public still needs to strictly adhere to the preventive measures to contain the spread of the virus. He stated that the most important measure to follow is social distancing which will help in limiting the spread of the virus.
Al-Hammadi declared that there have been cases of multiple infections among the members of one family in both citizens and residents. Such incidents have taken place as a result of not adhering to social distancing norms or wearing masks during special celebrations and gatherings in homes and farms.
Taking note of such incidents, Al-Hammadi highlighted the need to avoid large gatherings and limiting the event to a small group of family members. Even then, people have to ensure to follow precautionary measures such as maintaining social distancing, avoiding handshaking, and using single-use paper dishes, cutlery, and other utensils. In explanation, he revealed that 47 COVID-19 cases were reported from five families who attended family events without adhering to social distancing and other precautionary norms.
Dr. Omar Al Hammadi also announced that the government took the decision to resume circulation of newspapers, magazines, and other paper marketing publications with all precautionary and preventive measures as part of the efforts to bring the economic activities and society to normality. However, it was decided that the items can be distributed to offices where only one person will exclusively read and use the newspapers or magazines and shall not be distributed in meeting places such as cafes.
Answering to the questions related to the pandemic crisis, Al Hammadi identified that the data and statistics from various countries across the world show that infections among men are higher as compared to women. He stated that clinical studies have also shown similar statistics, adding that there is no clear reason for the same. However, he added that there could be biological and social factors and behaviours which can potentially ascertain who is more likely to have complications or be infected.
Al-Hammadi went to explain that high rates of infection among men could be linked to a higher number of men with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart, and tumors, along with a higher rate of smoking among males in a few countries. These indications put them at higher risk of COVID-19 complications and death. On the other hand, there are some evidence showing that a woman's immune system works more efficiently in comparison to a man's due to genetic factors and hormones. At the same time, behavioural patterns can also indicate higher rates of infection among men as compared to women. He further emphasised on the need for more research and studies related to the impact of COVID-19 among various genders.
Speaking about the ill-impacts of smoking, Al-Hammadi said that smoking can have negative effects on the lungs which can adversely affect the possibility of recovery and can cause more damage to the patient's health, highlighting that COVID-19 is primarily a lung disease.
He stated that the duration of recovery among the patients depends on the individual’s condition, age, and medical history, adding that those with chronic diseases will require longer treatment ranging from 10 to 20 days from the date the symptoms appear. Furthermore, patients can as less as 10 days to recover if the symptoms of the infection are simple and limited to coughing, fever, and bodily pain.
Addressing the need to indulge in safe interaction with family and friends during the Eid period, Al-Hammadi called the public to use social media and electronic communication to stay connected to their loved once at the present time since face-to-face interaction can increase the risk of virus transmission. Moreover, personal visits should only be limited to first and second-degree relatives and precautionary measures and guidelines should be followed by everyone to reduce the risk of infection among loved ones.
The UAE government spokesperson also suggested the public to avoid the distribution of gifts and money among children to reduce the risk of infection. In addition, replace personal visits with phone calls and social media messages and adhere to social distancing measures, wear masks, regularly wash hands, and avoid hand-shaking during the Eid period. Moreover, protect the elder citizens and particularly those with chronic diseases by avoiding personal visits.
Concluding the briefing, Al-Hammadi pointed out the need for the public to ensure that domestic workers do not meet with people from outside the homes and use personal protective equipment (PPE) when handling deliveries and other day-to-day essential activities.