The measures to tackle COVID-19 in the Middle East have succeeded in flattening the curve and limiting the spread of the virus. The number of new daily cases and hospital admissions is continuing to decline each week. The Middle East in general has been proactive and extensive in testing which has enabled the respective governments to identify high numbers of positive cases in any given community. The country, according to Our World in Data website, continues to be a global leader in rolling seven-day averages of doses offered per 100 people. Overall, the UAE is the second-highest in the cumulative vaccine distribution rate.
Other reasons the virus has been well contained include:
- The Middle East has a young population and high-quality care provided through the public healthcare sector for COVID-19 patients.
- There is proactive testing to identify cases early.
- Hospitals have expanded capacity, especially intensive care, to ensure all patients receive the medical care they need.
- Enforced lockdown in March/April 2020. Reenforced again as at 21st January 2021.
- Social distancing is enforced everywhere. Currently, the UAE is still in lockdown with:
- Dubai airport’s passenger traffic dropping 70% in 2020, testing occurring immediately upon arrival, and an enforced quarantine for 10 days.
- Numerous countries are now on the travel ban list
COVID-19 vaccine considerations for the United Arab Emirates
- Can employers mandate the vaccine?
- Who will control delivery of the vaccine?
- Who covers the cost of the vaccine?
- Where will people get vaccinated?
Government locations, but private hospitals can secure their own vaccine supply.
- Is there cultural resistance to getting the vaccine?
A little, because the COVID-19 vaccine is so new
The following changes have been made in all workplaces:
- When entering any public building there is a thermal screening of employees and visitors (entry prohibited for those with a body temperature of 38 degrees celsius or higher).
- Since April 2020 everyone in the Middle East must wear a protective mask outside of their homes.
- Eighty percent of the staff is allowed in the workplace, and remote working has become normal practice for internal and external stakeholders.
- Employers are having their workforce work in split teams, alternating shifts, or alternating days to comply with capacity and physical distancing guidance.
- Employers also allow flexible working hours for vulnerable employees or those who are concerned about being present in office locations for health reasons.
It is also important for employers to note that:
- Group medical includes COVID-19 coverage.
- International disability insurers cover COVID-19. Local Insurers exclude it.
- Local markets are adjusting to COVID-19 with new insurance products.
- Vaccinations are happening all across the Middle East in an orderly manner, most of the population will be vaccinated by the 3 Quarter of 2021.
Dubai — whose economy relies heavily on tourism and hospitality — had begun making changes due to a sudden increase in confirmed cases in December 2020 and January 2021.
On Jan. 21, authorities directed all Dubai hospitals to suspend non-essential surgeries for a month. Around the same time, a directive went out suspending all “entertainment activities” in restaurants and bars. The cap on weddings, social events, and private parties has been cut to 10 people from 30. Restaurants and cafes, from Jan. 27 onward, will require increased space between tables and fewer people per table. Customers and equipment in gyms must now be spaced 3 meters apart as opposed to the prior 2 meters, though that 2-meter requirement was often not very judiciously applied in the first place.
Per capita cases in the UAE are still lower than in the U.S., Israel, the U.K., and much of Europe, but they are significantly higher than in neighboring Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia or Oman. Yet with lockdowns and increased testing and far-reaching vaccination program, it seems the UAE is turning my tide, within the first 3-6 months of 2021.
More InformationNexus, Asinta's partner in the United Arab Emirates.
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Page last modified: April 20, 2021
The information presented on this site is current as of the date initially posted; and, because matters related to COVID-19, the vaccine, and compliance measures are changing so quickly, it may not be current as of the date you read it. While the information gathered here is from Asinta global partners who are subject matter experts in their respective fields, this information is not meant to be a substitute for individual legal or medical advice, or as a substitute for advice in your specific situation.