The UAE has suffered two COVID-19 surges but done a good job in containing the virus, reporting only 662 deaths
While almost all of the popular global tourist destinations are currently reeling under the massive blow the COVID-19 outbreak has delivered them, there are select places, albeit very scarce, that have got back on their feet and are welcoming visitors. After all, the world spent the past 10 months sitting bored at home, in self-isolation, self-captivity or, worse, quarantine. It’s no wonder, then, that the spirit is impatiently missing a return to and connect with the outside world: The breeze, open skies, grainy beaches, shopping, the walks; basically the urge to just escape somewhere. But the million-dollar question is: Is there really such a safe place yet? Dubai comes to mind as the most prominent of such rare addresses; the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has reopened to visitors, though a valid health insurance and negative COVID test are still mandatory for all arrivals. But the call of the “City of Gold” doesn’t mean that the lure of the lucre has made it heedless of the hygiene and health considerations in these times of the abominable, omnipresent virus. The UAE has suffered its own COVID-19 surges, peaking in May and again in mid-September, but has a relatively low incidence rate compared to most urban centres. It has done a good job in containing the virus, with only 662 deaths recorded as of December 30. The UAE initiated a swift lockdown early on and, after adopting virus prevention measures, Dubai’s resorts have re-opened as swiftly — and safely. It means the visitors must also embrace safety checks and protocols. Having had to wear a mask on board the airplane, the arrivals need to do the same in every public space or face a 3,000 dirham ($817) fine. This includes taxis, currently allowing just two passengers unless it’s a minivan or the Careem app, and on Dubai Metro; sterilised and running as usual but with mandatory distancing. Thanks largely to early, comparatively strict movement directives, sterilising procedures and group gathering limits, Dubai is back to something approaching normality. In hotels, Perspex panels shield resort check-in desk staff and, in some cases, luggage is spray-sanitised on entry. Some other retreats operate a walk-through sanitiser tunnel. The city is religiously following all health-related norms, procedures and measures to ensure that every single tourist’s health concerns are rigorously and vigorously addressed; and while those masks can prove irritating in the UAE heat, it’s good to know you’re in a country with a relatively low infection rate. Also, the visitors should be at home with the smell of sanitiser; the dispensers are everywhere and everyone is expected to use them. All of the above can be lessons for India to emulate, though the conditions vastly differ.
But what makes this aberration doubly delightful is that several other popular destinations, viz; California, Los Angeles, New York City, England and Brazil, among others, are still deep in the throes of the pandemic which is showing no signs of abatement. While the latest reports suggest that even the hospitals in California — otherwise an attractive tourist destination for most part of the year, what with Hollywood, Disneyland, Yosemite National Park and the Golden Gate Bridge — are “at the brink of catastrophe”, the number of Coronavirus deaths has surpassed the 25,000-mark as the ongoing surge of patients swarms hospitals and pushes the healthcare staff to the breaking point as they dread another wave after the holiday season gets over. Similarly, Brazil too had downplayed the COVID threat with President Jair Bolsonaro calling it a “little cold” but his denialist attitude ensured that Brazil currently has approximately 7.3 million cases of infection and 1,87,000 deaths, and the graph isn’t showing any signs of heading south anytime soon. As for England, the less said, the better. Even before South Africa, the island nation had become the first country globally to report the mutated — and reportedly far deadlier than the Wuhan virus — strain; causing it to suspend outbound international flights, and the world was understandably eager to return the favour.
(Courtesy: The Pioneer)