I could not feel safer in any other place other than in UAE. I am currently a resident in UAE and am extremely impressed by the steps taken by the government to guarantee the safety of all its populace whether Emirati Citizens or Residents.
UAE has taken extreme measures to curb the spread of the Pandemic and minimize the effects of negative impacts to the Country by taking the following very crucial steps;-
- Sharing of Critical Information
Ensured that critical information on COVID- 19 was circulated throughout the country and people were well aware of the signs and symptoms, preventative measures and all the basic information reached everyone in every sector. The government also developed a website, MOHAP, on where the people could obtain important information.
- Pro Active response
The Caring leaders did not take for granted of the news that that there could be a pandemic known as COVID-19. The government reacted swiftly as soon as the disease was announced by WHO as compared to other countries that disregarded it as hearsay. The government ensured that public places were closed these included public beaches and parks, hotel industry, commercial offices and any activities that involved close interaction of people. Making sure everyone stays safe at home. Only essential services such as grocery, supermarkets, hospitals and pharmacies were left open.
- Availability of resources
The government used all the available resources to ensure that they fought against the pandemic. The Country had to use its resources to conduct 24-hours sterilization activities in all the roads; they positioned a place in World trade Centre which had full hospital setup for the affected people. People felt secure when the President of UAE said that the country is able to feed its people for years while assuring citizens of constant food supply and importation of vital supplies.
- Workers/ Employee- Employer Agreement and satisfaction
Guarantee that the workers were paid during the period they were staying at home. This involved certain percentage cuts by the organization, whatever the agreement the companies and employees had were to be well recorded and sent to the Ministry of Labor. The Ministry emphasized on timely payments and it held the companies responsible for taking care of their employees during this crisis. Those employees that were terminated for redundancy, the government ascertained that they were registered on Virtual job market and overseas recruitment was temporarily suspended.
Exemptions from medical tests for renewal of work permits and residence Visas. The work permits would also be renewed automatically. Extension of the Visas of residents and foreigners both inside and outside UAE was done to support the citizens due to air traffic suspension.
- Rent Waived
Government owned commercial buildings waived the rent for the tenants. This was an act to show solidarity during this difficult period, since most businesses remained closed therefore, no access to revenue to enable rent payments. This also happened in some residential buildings where some tenants were exempted from rental payments or partial payments depending on the agreement with the Landlords.
- Feeding those in need
Ascertained that the people did not remain hungry at home especially those who don’t have work. The government undertook an initiative that ensured there were over 1.2 Million foods that were delivered to its citizens. This also encouraged people to donate 10AED if one is capable to ensure everyone was taken care of. This included lighting different colors in Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.
- Part of school fees waived
Parents’ money on buses and other activities were returned since the children have been learning by distance learning that took place online. This was through enforcement by the government after the parents pleaded with it.
- Strict rules and regulations
The strict rules and regulations that were put in place followed by hefty fines as well as the follow up by the enforcement authorities such as police assured that people stayed safe and the spread of the pandemic contained at greater heights. For example, once the curfew and 24 hrs lockdown was put in place, people were required to be at home at the period and permits were to be obtained before going out.
- Testing many people at a time
The government took the initiative of testing thousands of people per day by setting up multiple drive-through National Screening Centers across all Emirates. Applications such as SEHA App were established to book for screening or one would call at affordable fee of 370 AED for persons who wanted to check there status but the vulnerable people such as the elderly, those with underlying health issues and those suspected to have contracted the Virus was free.
- Free parking fees and other services
During the sterilization period government announced free parking fees for all the vehicles, this was to ensure that everyone stayed home and safely.
- Economic Support to minimize COVID 19 impact
Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) provided support scheme that will be able to support companies and businesses. These provided temporary relief for businesses with loans; avoiding liquidation and secure business sustenance for a period of some months.
- Multiple online platforms and helpful emergency helpline
Firstly, UAE launched online education by distance learning, where the teachers were trained and established operation centers to follow up on the distance learning. Secondly, it launched Weqaya App that provided latest COVID-19 information, consultation, official announcement and latest news. Thirdly, ability to obtain movement permits online during the 24 hours sterilization period.
Fourthly, COVID-19 Helpline was availed where one could call for help, information or essential services, similarly, virtual help was set up such as virtual doctor and DHA mobile App. Additional services such as mental health counseling for dealing with anxiety and psychological effects; also services on those Citizens abroad such as Twajudi services and UAEMOFA App and Website; technical helpline for distance learning incase of technical issues faced by parents and students.
- Multiple list of violations and fines upon partial open up
In order to contain the further spread of the virus upon opening, only 30% of occupation in most spaces such as offices malls and other places was allowed. UAE government placed a list of violations and the fines, for example, not wearing masks outdoors and indoors for those suffering from chronic diseases and by those showing cold and flu symptoms is 1000 AED.
Municipality also conducted vigorous search of the violators of strict measures to ensure fighting against COVID 19, hefty fines were issued to different shopping malls and businesses for violating health and safety regulations that safeguard staff and customers. Others faced closure and others actually closed.
There is a mass of other important lessons that UAE has done that the whole world can learn from. Right now for me, I feel more at home here.