A spike in COVID-19 cases in the UAE, plus a number of UAE passengers accused of spreading a new virus variant abroad is causing trouble in UAE skies
There is a spike in COVID-19 cases in the United Arab Emirates, stats show, plus a number of UAE passengers landing in other countries have been connected to the new COVID-19 variant causing havoc abroad.
Now certain countries are raising the alarm and some are imposing bans on arrivals from the UAE.
Here’s the latest.
UK imposes ban
New travel bans were imposed by the United Kingdom last Friday limiting arrivals from the UAE and other destinations in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19, with deaths last week crossing the 100,000 threshold in the UK.
Burundi and Rwanda were being added to a "red list" of countries seen as high risk for travel.
It comes after the UK announced a new policy of enforced hotel quarantine for travelers from 30 countries last Wednesday.
These new travel bans follow the "discovery of a new coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa, that may have spread to other countries, including the UAE," a statement from the UK's Department for Transport said.
In a statement, Dubai airport advised those booked on flights due to arrive in Britain after the ban not to go to the airport and instead contact their airline.
For this week effective through to February 5th, Qatar Airways is also temporarily suspending new bookings, but not flights, from the UAE, South Africa, and Rwanda.
Dubai is one of the few destinations worldwide that is open to all visitors, provided they meet COVID-19 testing requirements.
Laying the blame on the UAE
Dubai is now being blamed by several countries for spreading the coronavirus abroad, even as questions swirl about the city-state’s ability to handle reported record spikes in virus cases, according to the Associated Press (AP).
The government’s Dubai Media Office said in a statement: “After a year of managing the pandemic, we can confidently say the current situation is under control and we have our plans to surge any capacity in the health care system should a need arise.”
Dubai, last July, became one of the first travel destinations to describe itself as open for business.
As tourism restarted, daily reported coronavirus case numbers slowly grew but mostly remained stable through the fall.
But for the last 17 days, the UAE has reported record daily coronavirus case numbers.
And now, mutated strains of the coronavirus have been linked back to Dubai.
Denmark already discovered one traveler coming from Dubai who tested positive for the South African variant, the first such discovery there, the AP said.
In the Philippines, health authorities say they discovered a British strain infecting a Filipino who made a business trip to Dubai on Dec. 27.
He “had no exposure to a confirmed case prior to their departure to Dubai,” the Philippines Department of Health said.
The AP said the UAE government health agency stopped live entertainment, halted nonessential surgeries, limited wedding sizes, and ordered gyms to increase space between those working out. It also now requires coronavirus testing for all those flying into its airport.
Between Abu Dhabi’s distributing a Chinese vaccine by Sinopharm and Dubai offering Pfizer-BioNTech’s inoculation, the UAE says it has given 2.8 million doses so far, ranking it among the top countries in the world.