Globally, virus cases have surged after nationwide celebrations.
The UAE is starting to bend the Covid-19 curve, but with Eid Al Fitr coming up, irresponsible get-togethers could easily turn the recovery graph upside down, medical experts have warned.
The country’s daily Covid cases dropped to 1,507 on Monday, the second-lowest daily count recorded so far this year after 1,501 cases were reported on January 4. It was a big improvement from the highs of more than 3,000 cases in January, hitting 3,977 on February 3.
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However, with anticipated pent-up demand for travel, get-togethers, and camping, medics have urged the public to be responsible. Keep celebrations low-key, scrap gatherings, and avoid hugs and handshakes.
Dr Humaid Al Shamsi, president of the Emirates Oncology Society, underlined that the UAE has managed to reduce the number of new cases but there is a long road ahead.
“This is the second Eid Al Fitr during the Covid-19 pandemic. Last year, there was a lot of anxiety and fear. Fortunately, now, we have the benefit of knowing how to deal with this dangerous virus. We also have the confidence to keep ourselves safe by taking the vaccine and following safety measures. At the same time, we should continue this fight with utmost care and precautions.
Dr Al Shamsi, who is also consultant for oncology and internal medicine at Burjeel Speciality Hospital, Sharjah, reminded community members to refrain from being part of any large gatherings, shaking hands and giving hugs.
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“We used to celebrate Eid with grand ceremonies in the years before the pandemic. But this time, we should anticipate the dangers of large gatherings and get-togethers. Early this year, we saw an increase in daily reported infections due to laxity as part of celebrations. Through consistent efforts, the number of cases has been reduced. So, it’s our responsibility to follow all safety protocols.
“We should limit meetings within immediate family members who have been vaccinated. Keep physical distance and wear a mask. Avoid large gatherings and unnecessary outings. When guests arrive, minimise gestures that promote close contact. Don’t shake hands or give hugs, try elbow bumps, wave and verbally greet them.”
Dr Vinu George Abraham, internal medicine specialist at Aster Clinic–Dar Al Shifa, Abu Dhabi, pointed out that globally, caseloads have surged after nationwide celebrations.
“There has been numerous data forwarded by the WHO, which showed a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases just because of large and small social gatherings. There has been a reported ten-fold increase in Covid-19 cases worldwide because of events like New Year celebrations, school breaks, Thanksgiving, etc. In such celebrations, it is arduous for the government healthcare facility to track down the source of infection and provide effective treatment and isolation.”
Dr Abraham urged community members to mark the festival with utmost responsibility by adhering to health and safety measures.
“Although the number of infections is declining in the UAE, there are still people with low immunity, like the elderly with chronic disease and pregnant women. They need continuous care. The virus constantly changes through mutation and new variants are expected to occur over time. Health is wealth, stay home, stay safe and stay blessed.”
Dr Srinivasa Rao Polumuru, internal medicine specialist at NMC Specialty Hospital, Al Nahda, Dubai, pointed out that even going to restaurants had been linked to a higher likelihood of infection.
“A large seroprevalence survey from Spain highlighted the greater risk of infection within the household compared with non-household exposures. Although transmission rates are highest in household and congregate settings, frequently reported clusters of cases after social or work gatherings also highlight the risk of transmission through close and non-household social contact. Going to restaurants and other drinking or eating establishments has been associated with a higher likelihood of infection, likely because of the difficulty with wearing masks and maintaining social distancing in such settings.”