Dubai Reopens Doors To Tourists After Long COVID-19 Shutdown

Tourists sunbathe at the beach of the Al Naseem hotel in the Gulf emirate of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, on July 7, 2020. KARIM SAHIB / AFP
Tourists sunbathe at the beach of the Al Naseem hotel in the Gulf emirate of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, on July 7, 2020. KARIM SAHIB / AFP

 

With a “welcome” passport sticker and coronavirus tests on arrival, Dubai reopened its doors to international visitors Tuesday in the hope of reviving its tourism industry after a nearly four-month closure.

But businesses are mainly betting on those already living in the gleaming desert city to energise its ailing economy and serve as a test run before wary foreign holidaymakers return.

“A warm welcome to your second home,” said the sticker applied to passports at Dubai airport, where employees wore hazmat suits and vending machines offered personal protective equipment.

Italian tourist Francesca Conte said on arrival she was worried up until the last minute that her flight would be cancelled.

“When I saw passengers queueing at the gate, I thought today we are not leaving, since the trip to Dubai had already been skipped three times,” Conte said.

She said she felt sad “seeing empty spaces” on the plane and stewards and hostesses “dressed like nurses and doctors”, in their lab coats.

The reopening Tuesday came as the number of COVID-19 cases in the United Arab Emirates climbed to 52,600 included 326 deaths, with millions of foreign workers living in cramped accommodation particularly hard hit.

Incoming tourists are required to present a negative test result taken within four days of the flight. If not, they can take the test on arrival, but must self-isolate until they receive the all-clear.

Tourism has long been the lifeline of the glitzy Gulf emirate, one of the seven sheikhdoms that make up the UAE.

High season starts in October when the scorching heat of the Gulf summer starts to dissipate.

Staycation, daycation

Dubai welcomed more than 16.7 million visitors last year, and before the pandemic crippled global travel, the aim had been to reach 20 million arrivals in 2020.

“We are ready to receive tourists while we take all necessary precautions,” said Talal al-Shanqiti of Dubai’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in a video message tweeted on Sunday.

With scant oil resources compared to its neighbours, Dubai has built the most diversified economy in the Gulf, boasting a reputation as a financial, commercial and tourism hub despite an economic downturn in recent years.

The city-state is known for its mega malls, high-end restaurants and five-star hotels and resorts.

But all have taken a severe hit during the coronavirus outbreak, and Dubai’s GDP in the first quarter of 2020 contracted 3.5 percent following two years of modest growth.

Dubai-based airline Emirates, the largest in the Middle East, has been forced to slash its sprawling network and is believed to have laid off thousands of staff.

Before reopening to international tourists, authorities launched social media campaigns and deployed hundreds of social media “influencers” to tout Dubai’s attractions.

As the hospitality business works out how to create an environment that follows strict hygiene rules but is still worth the hassle for potential foreign clients, hotels are offering Dubai residents “staycation” and “daycation” deals to offset the slump.

‘Plans have changed’

Restarting hospitality by “primarily targeting the domestic market is an important first step in our phased approach towards restoring normalcy in the tourism industry,” said Issam Kazim, CEO of the Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

And key to the effort are health and safety measures at hotels to “reassure guests and travellers that Dubai is one of the world’s safest destinations”, he said in a statement last month.

Boosting domestic tourism is also part of the strategy of the UAE’s other main destination, the oil-rich capital Abu Dhabi, which welcomed a record 11.35 million international visitors in 2019.

The UAE’s capital is home to top attractions including an F1 circuit and the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum, which in late June opened its doors to masked, gloved visitors after a 100-day closure.

But the emirate does not share Dubai’s enthusiasm about opening doors to foreign tourists just yet, although those with negative test results are now allowed to enter.

“Plans have changed and we are not expecting to have the same numbers of 2019 this year definitely. It would take another two to three years,” said Ali al-Shaiba, executive director of tourism and marketing for the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism.

“As of today, I can say domestic tourism is what is in our plan. We believe domestic tourism is key now and we don’t see us opening for international travellers very soon,” he told AFP on Monday.

 

AFP

Dubai Reopens Doors To Tourists After Long Shutdown

A man sunbathes along the Marina beach near the Ain Dubai Ferris wheel in the Gulf emirate of Dubai on July 7, 2020. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)
A man sunbathes along the Marina beach near the Ain Dubai Ferris wheel in the Gulf emirate of Dubai on July 7, 2020. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)

 

 

With a “welcome” passport sticker and coronavirus tests on arrival, Dubai reopens its doors to international visitors Tuesday in the hope of reviving its tourism industry after a nearly four-month closure.

But businesses are mainly betting on those already living in the gleaming desert city to energise its ailing economy and serve as a test run before wary foreign holidaymakers return.

“A warm welcome to your second home,” says the sticker applied to passports at Dubai airport, where employees wear hazmat suits and vending machines offer personal protective equipment.

The reopening comes even as the number of COVID-19 cases in the United Arab Emirates climbs to 52,068 included 324 deaths, with millions of foreign workers living in cramped accommodation particularly hard hit.

Incoming tourists are required to present a negative test result taken within four days of the flight. If not, they can take the test on arrival, but must self-isolate until they receive the all-clear.

Tourism has long been the lifeline of the glitzy Gulf emirate, one of the seven sheikhdoms that make up the United Arab Emirates.

High season starts in October when the scorching heat of the Gulf summer starts to dissipate.

Dubai welcomed more than 16.7 million visitors last year, and before the pandemic crippled global travel, the aim had been to reach 20 million arrivals in 2020.

“We are ready to receive tourists while we take all necessary precautions,” said Talal Al-Shanqiti of Dubai’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in a video message tweeted on Sunday.

– Staycation, daycation –
With scant oil resources compared to its neighbours, Dubai has built the most diversified economy in the Gulf, boasting a reputation as a financial, commercial and tourism hub despite an economic downturn in recent years.

The city-state is known for its mega malls, high-end restaurants and five-star hotels and resorts.

But all have taken a severe hit during the coronavirus outbreak, and Dubai’s GDP in the first quarter of 2020 was down by 3.5 percent year-on-year.

Dubai-based airline Emirates, the largest in the Middle East, has been forced to slash its sprawling network and is believed to have laid off thousands of staff.

Before reopening to international tourists, authorities launched social media campaigns and deployed hundreds of social media “influencers” to tout Dubai’s attractions.

But as the hospitality business works out how to create an environment that follows strict hygiene rules but is still worth the hassle for potential foreign clients, hotels are offering Dubai residents “staycation” and “daycation” deals to offset the slump.

– ‘Plans have changed’ –
Restarting hospitality by “primarily targeting the domestic market is an important first step in our phased approach towards restoring normalcy in the tourism industry,” said Issam Kazim, CEO of the Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

And key to the effort are health and safety measures at hotels to “reassure guests and travellers that Dubai is one of the world’s safest destinations,” he said in a statement last month.

Boosting domestic tourism is also part of the strategy of the UAE’s other main destination, the oil-rich capital Abu Dhabi, which welcomed a record 11.35 million international visitors in 2019.

The UAE’s capital is home to top attractions including an F1 circuit and the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum, which in late June opened its doors to masked, gloved visitors after a 100-day closure.

But the emirate does not share Dubai’s enthusiasm about opening doors to foreign tourists just yet, although those with negative test results are now allowed to enter.

“Plans have changed and we are not expecting to have the same numbers of 2019 this year definitely. It would take another two to three years,” said Ali Al Shaiba, executive director of tourism and marketing for the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism.

“As of today, I can say domestic tourism is what is in our plan. We believe domestic tourism is key now and we don’t see us opening for international travellers very soon,” he told AFP on Monday.

 

 

-AFP

Hushpuppi Makes First Appearance In Court After Arrest

Ramoni Igbalode aka Hushpuppi, was arrested by Dubai Police in June for fraud, among other crimes.
Ramoni Igbalode aka Hushpuppi, was arrested by Dubai Police in June for fraud, among other crimes.

 

The United States Department of Justice has confirmed that Nigerian cyber-crime suspect, Raymond Abass also known as Hushpuppi made his first appearance in court in Chicago on Friday.

The United State Department of Justice says the 37-year-old is expected to be transferred to Los Angeles in the coming weeks to face criminal charges.

Hushpuppi, a Dubai resident was arrested last month by UAE security agencies for allegedly conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from business email compromise (BEC) frauds and other scams, including schemes targeting a U.S. law firm, a foreign bank and an English Premier League club.

Hushpuppi was then extradited to the United States and taken into custody by FBI special agents earlier this week.

If convicted of conspiracy to engage in money laundering, Abbas would face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

Read Also: Dubai Police Extradites ‘Hushpuppi’ To United States

While the arrest of Hushpuppi by Dubai Interpol may help to resolve some cybercrimes, it has, on the other hand, also created problems for some Nigerians living in that country.

Nigerian youths and business owners in the UAE say they are at risk of being blacklisted by financial institutions, a move which could make their legitimate transactions in the country problematic.

Dubai Police Extradites ‘Hushpuppi’ To United States

Ramoni Igbalode aka Hushpuppi, was arrested by Dubai Police in June for fraud, among other crimes.
Ramoni Igbalode aka Hushpuppi, was arrested by Dubai Police in June 2020 for fraud, among other crimes.

 

Alleged criminal mastermind Raymond Igbalode Abbas, known as ‘Hushpuppi’ has been extradited from the United Arab Emirates to the United States.

This was revealed in a statement by the Dubai Police on Thursday in which the US Federal Bureau of Investigations extended its gratitude to the UAE crime watchdog for its role in apprehending and extraditing ‘Hushpuppi’.

 

In June, the Dubai Police had arrested Hushpuppi, Olalekan Jacob Ponle, known as ‘Woodberry’, and ten others in an operation tagged ‘Fox Hunt’.

The suspects were accused of “committing crimes outside the UAE, including money-laundering, cyber fraud, hacking, criminal impersonating, scamming individuals, banking fraud and identity theft,” the Dubai Police said.

 

Before his arrest, Hushpuppi had gained fame on social media for his outlandish display of wealth.

The director of Dubai CID, Brigadier Jamal Salem Al Jallaf said the raid that led to his arrest resulted in the confiscation of incriminating documents of a planned fraud on a global scale worth AED 1.6 billion ($ 435 million).

“The team also seized more than AED 150 million ($40.9 million) in cash, 13 luxury cars with an estimated value of AED 25 million ($6.8 million) obtained from fraud crimes, and confiscated 21 computer devices, 47 smartphones, 15 memory sticks, five hard disks containing 119,580 fraud files as well as addresses of 1,926,400 victims”, he said.

After conducting further investigations and analysing confiscated electronic devices, Dubai Police investigators uncovered sensitive information mined by the suspects on individuals and companies overseas including bank accounts and fake credit cards as well as documents and files condemning the gangs’ illegal activities, the Dubai Police said.

350 Stranded Nigerians Return From UAE, Pakistan

The Emirates Airlines plane conveying the 300 evacuated Nigerians from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates arrive the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on June 19, 2020.

 

The Federal Government has evacuated 300 stranded Nigerians from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

This was confirmed on Friday by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) via Twitter.

According to the commission, the Nigerians were on-board Emirates Airlines plane.

NIDCOM noted that the repatriated citizens would embark on the 14-day self-isolation period to ascertain their COVID-19 status.

 

“300 Stranded Nigerians in UAE landed in Abuja, Nigeria today, Friday 19th June 2020 via Emirates Airlines.

“All Evacuees are to go on Compulsory 14 days SELF ISOLATION according to the new Protocol by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19,” it said.

READ ALSO: Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, Joins PDP

Meanwhile, another set of 50 stranded Nigerians have returned to the country from Pakistan.

The Pakistan returnees who were onboard the Tarco Air arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja about 0145HRS.

 

Pandemic Gives Dubai Chance To Put Tech To Test

Police officers monitor the streets and receive calls from citizens at the Command and Control Center of Dubai Police in the Gulf emirate, on February 24, 2020. – The novel coronavirus has given the Gulf emirate of Dubai an opportunity to showcase its technological and scientific clout as it seeks to shape its own model for approaching the pandemic. KARIM SAHIB / AFP.

 

From smart police helmets to research labs, the novel coronavirus has given Dubai an opportunity to test its technological and scientific clout as it shapes its approach to the pandemic.

A key part of the glitzy Gulf emirate’s fight is its COVID-19 Command and Control Centre, set up to coordinate the efforts of Dubai’s doctors, epidemiologists and other professionals.

It is hosted within the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU) in Dubai’s Healthcare City, also home to state-of-the-art hospitals, labs and research centres.

“For several years, Dubai has endeavoured to put in place solid digital infrastructure, and this has contributed to the fight against the coronavirus”, said Amer Sharif, who heads the multidisciplinary centre.

It was established at the start of the health crisis by Dubai Crown Prince and social media star Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

In one room, young mask-wearing men and women sit at carefully separated desks crunching data on laptops and coordinating with workers on the ground.

The initiative includes a scientific team whose role is “to stay abreast of the latest advances in research and scientific evidence, both in the country and elsewhere in the world”, team head Alawi Alsheikh-Ali told AFP.

– ‘Data and science’ –

The United Arab Emirates has carried out more than 1.6 million coronavirus tests, and has officially declared over 28,700 infections, including 244 deaths.

This high-tech approach, Sharif said, including “the complete digitisation of the health system”, has prevented a greater spread of the virus and made the lockdown easier.

Tom Loney, associate professor of public health and epidemiology at MBRU, said the coronavirus was an opportunity for Dubai to put its capabilities to the test.

“It’s the ability to react, to make quick decisions based on data and science” that sets Dubai apart, said Loney, who is also an adviser to authorities in the city-state.

According to him decisions were made by order of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, whose portrait is featured on the MBRU building.

Dubai is one of seven emirates in the UAE, a key Gulf state with big technological and scientific ambitions.

The emirate lacks the oil wealth of its neighbours, but has the most diversified economy in the Gulf, building a reputation as a financial, commercial and tourism hub.

The UAE sent an astronaut into space last year, and in July is set to launch the first Arab probe towards Mars, a project sponsored by the emir of Dubai.

– ‘Own model’ –

Many tech options were already at Dubai’s fingertips when the pandemic struck, and the emirate was quick at putting its technology to a variety of uses during the virus crisis.

Police wear smart helmets that take the temperature of passers-by while laboratories make protective masks using 3D printers.

When a night-time curfew begins, Dubai residents — 90 percent of whom are expats — receive a reminder message on their mobile phone in Arabic, English or other languages.

The UAE has regularly announced research advances into the COVID-19 illness, developing several apps to help manage the pandemic.

One of them, Alhosn, which the government has encouraged residents to download, helps track people who are infected with the virus or who may have come in close contact with confirmed cases.

But the use of technology to fight the pandemic has raised concern across the world over government surveillance and privacy risks.

Tech experts and the media have highlighted this issue in the UAE, where some foreign websites and applications are already blocked.

But Sharif pushed back against scepticism.

“Dubai and the Emirates respect privacy, whether it is a question of patient records or smart applications”, he said.

The emirate was creating its “own model” of responding to the health crisis, Sharif added, though authorities were also looking at countries such as South Korea, seen as a positive policy response to the crisis.

“We must follow the developments… but also add to them,” he said.

AFP

Three Dubai Evacuees Test Positive For COVID-19

A health worker helps his colleague with his PPE during community testing as part of effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV.

 

 

Three of the returnees recently evacuated from Dubai have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Commissioner for Health in Lagos State, Professor Akin Abayomi, announced this on Sunday via his Twitter handle.

He said the evacuees tested positive following a test conducted on them and have been admitted to the COVID-19 care centre for appropriate treatment protocols.

According to Professor Abayomi, the state will continue to adhere strictly to quarantine protocols and enforce necessary precautionary measures in order to contain the spread of the pandemic.

READ ALSO: Buhari Renews Akabueze’s Tenure As Budget Office DG

He appealed to the residents of the state, particularly those who recently returned to the country to cooperate with the government’s COVID-19 response team at all times.

 

This comes barely a day after the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced 176 new COVID-19 infections in the country.

In a late-night tweet on Saturday, the NCDC said 95 of the cases were in Lagos, 31 in Oyo, 11 in Abuja, eight each in Niger and Borno states, and six in Jigawa.

Kaduna also reported four new cases, three in Anambra, two in Edo, Rivers, Nasarawa and Bauchi States, as well as one each in Benue and Zamfara States.

A breakdown of the figures by regions shows that Lagos in the South West has the highest with 2,373 cases of COVID-19, followed by Kano in the North West with 761.

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the North Central region has the third-highest tally in the country with 397, just as Bauchi in the North East has 212, Edo in the South South has 95, and Enugu in the South East has 12 cases.

This brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country to 5,621 with 1,472 patients discharged and 176 deaths across 34 states and the FCT.

Test Results Of Dubai, UK, US Returnees Will Not Be Shared With Public – NCDC

File photo of NCDC DG, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu

 

The Director-General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Thursday said the agency does not share test results of individuals publicly and the test results of Nigerians evacuated from Dubai, UAE; the United Kingdom and the United States is not an exemption.

Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu who was responding to questions during the Presidential Task Force (PTF) briefing on COVID-19 on Thursday stressed that the results of the retunes will be shared only with them and not made public.

He added that the returnees are still in isolation undergoing the stipulated 14days of self-isolation.

“We are doing the test, even when the tests are out we are not going to offer it to you. We will offer it to the returnees. If they are patients we will manage that.

“We are not going to make public the results whether you just came back from Dubai or you are living in Nigeria. Results are meant for patients who got tested,” he said.

FILE PHOTO: A plane carrying stranded Nigerians in the United States arrives at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja on May 10, 2020. Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

No fewer than 253 Nigerians were recently evacuated from the United Kingdom (UK) by the Federal Government and 265 others evacuated from Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) amid the Coronavirus outbreak.

Also on May 10, 160 Nigerians who were stranded in the United States following the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it plans to evacuate more Nigerians back home from Canada, China and other countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NCDC DG in his address also announced that the agency is working with research organisations in the country and focusing on domestic science and research.

He said the agency is working with TETFUND, NIMR, ACEGID, LUTH, among others to find a solution to the pandemic.

Chartered Plane Conveying Nigerians To Lagos From Dubai To Arrive At 7pm Today

 

A chartered plane conveying Nigerian returnees from the United Arab Emirates will now land at 7pm today, after it made a U-turn in a bid to properly tend to a pregnant woman who reportedly went into labour.

The flight which was expected to come in at 3pm is now expected to land at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport at 7 pm.

Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama confirmed the arrival time during his speech at the Presidential Task Force briefing on COVID-19 on Wednesday.

READ ALSO: Chartered Plane Conveying Nigerians To Lagos From Dubai Makes U-Turn

“One of the passengers, a lady, had a baby on the flight, or went into labour,” Onyeama said.

“So the plane had to turn back. And I am happy to say mother and child are doing well in the hospital. And the arrival time has been rescheduled to 7 pm this evening.”

After weeks of delay, the first batch of Nigerians stuck abroad amid the coronavirus pandemic were expected in the country today.

The Emirates flight is expected to be the first of at least two other flights scheduled to evacuate Nigerians within the next few days.

Expo 2020 Dubai Postponed To October 2021 – Organiser

People wearing masks for protection against the coronavirus, leave the Mall of Dubai on April 28, 2020, after the shopping centre was reopened as part of moves in the Gulf emirate to ease lockdown restrictions imposed last month to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 illness. Karim SAHIB / AFP.

 

The Expo 2020 global trade fair, hosted by Dubai, has been postponed by a year due to the coronavirus outbreak and will be held from October 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, the Paris-based organiser said Monday.

The six-month, multibillion-dollar global innovation fair, set to be the largest event ever staged in the Arab world, was expected to attract some 24 million visitors starting October 20 this year.

But a two-thirds majority of member states of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) voted in favour of a delay requested by the United Arab Emirates, which the body said “allows all participants to safely navigate the impact of COVID-19.”

“Expo 2020 Dubai is gearing up to help shape a post-pandemic world and create a better future for all,” the bureau said in a statement.

The delay “also allows the World Expo to focus on a collective desire for new thinking to identify solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time.”

READ ALSO: Europe Emerges From Lockdown As Global COVID-19 Cases Top 3.5 Million

Dubai, the glitzy city-state which is part of the United Arab Emirates and is known for hosting hundreds of conferences annually, has already scrapped a string of cultural and entertainment events amid the pandemic that has claimed more than 246,000 lives around the world to date.

Unable to meet in a general assembly due to epidemic restrictions, BIE member states voted remotely on the delay.

The vote technically remains open until May 29, but the required two-thirds threshold for approving the postponement was reached within a week of voting opening on April 24, the statement said.

They also voted to retain the name Expo 2020 Dubai.

It will be the first World Expo held in the BIE’s Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, welcoming 192 countries, plus businesses, multilateral organisations and educational establishments.

AFP

Dubai Suspends Marriage, Divorce During Coronavirus Lockdown

A picture taken on March 28, 2020 shows a deserted street in the Emirate city of Dubai amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. KARIM SAHIB / AFP

 

Coronavirus lockdowns may make or break relationships, but in Dubai marriages and divorces have been suspended “until further notice” to avoid gatherings that could spread the disease.

Dubai’s justice department said Wednesday that the decision was among the “measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic” rolled out in the emirate which is under a strict lockdown.

Justice Khaled al-Hawsni of the family court also said on the department’s website that couples who have already completed marriage formalities must not organise wedding parties “even among their immediate circles”.

The United Arab Emirates has recorded more than 2,000 cases of the coronavirus, and 12 deaths.

All citizens and residents other than those in essential services require a permit to leave their homes.

Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the country, has come to a virtual halt with its famous mega-malls and sprawling hotels shuttered.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 Pandemic May Spark Global Condom Shortage

Life under the lockdown has raised many questions among anxious citizens.

One Emirati man contacted police to ask whether he needs a permit to visit his second wife, the Gulf News daily reported, without saying what the answer was.

Polygamy is allowed in the country, with men allowed to have four wives at the same time, in accordance with Islamic law.

AFP

Dubai Tightens Measures Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

A picture taken on March 28, 2020 shows a deserted street in the Emirate city of Dubai amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. KARIM SAHIB / AFP

 

Dubai authorities on Saturday announced tighter measures to combat the novel coronavirus, as the number of cases in the United Arab Emirates surpassed 1,500.

For two weeks the movement of people and vehicles will be further restricted, with only one person per residence allowed to leave for “essential needs” such as food and medicine, according to the Dubai Media Office.

People working in “vital sectors” — including healthcare, media and delivery — are allowed to go out and supermarkets and pharmacies will remain in service.

Metro and tram services, however, will also be suspended.

In addition to movement restrictions, authorities announced “the extension of the sterilisation programme to 24 hours a day across all areas and communities in the emirate to protect the health and safety of the community”.

The measures went into effect at 8:00 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Saturday and are subject to renewal.

The authorities added that “extensive medical tests will be conducted across densely populated areas”.

The decision came shortly after the UAE announced on Saturday 241 new novel coronavirus infections — the highest single-day total since the outbreak in the country.

The Gulf state has now a total of 1,505 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 disease, and 10 deaths. It has enforced extensive lockdown measures to curb the spread of the illness including an ongoing night-time curfew.

The UAE has the second highest number of confirmed infections in the Gulf after Saudi Arabia, which has recorded more than 2,000 cases and 29 deaths.

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