UAE lifts ban on online call apps in coronavirus crisis

The apps include Skype for Business, Google Hangouts Meet and others. (File/AFP)
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Updated 24 March 2020

UAE lifts ban on online call apps in coronavirus crisis

  • The apps include Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Blackboard, Microsoft’s Skype for Business and Google Hangouts Meet
  • Schools and colleges began distance learning on March 22

DUBAI: The UAE has announced plans to lift the ban on some boycotted apps, such as Skype for Business, in an effort to help companies function during the coronavirus crisis, state news agency WAM reported on Tuesday.

The UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said it was working with network providers to enable companies to use Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Blackboard, Microsoft’s Skype for Business and Google Hangouts Meet.

The authority said these apps will be available as they assist people in their work and study at a distance.

Previously the Ministry of Education closed schools, bringing forward the spring break, and calling on students and teachers to take part in distance learning.

Schools and colleges have been closed since March 8 and distance learning began on Monday, March 22 and will run until at least April 2.

There are 198 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country, out of which 41 recovered and 2 died.


Ardern’s online messages keep spirits up in New Zealand’s coronavirus lockdown

A woman struggles moving her office chair and other items in the normally-busy central business district Wellington after New Zealand imposed a lockdown in a bid to smother coronavirus infection rates. (AFP)
Updated 31 March 2020

Ardern’s online messages keep spirits up in New Zealand’s coronavirus lockdown

  • 39-year-old PM’s clear communication wins praise, even from fiercest critics more txt pls more

WELLINGTON: Hours after New Zealand imposed a nationwide lockdown to beat a coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took to Facebook, livestreaming in a sweater from bed, to “check in” on citizens and tell them of the day’s events.

Ardern’s news conferences for more than 30 minutes a day, taking queries, streaming Facebook videos and posting pictures on Instagram, offer a contrast with some world leaders who have stumbled through confusing briefings about virus combat plans.
“I thought I would jump online quickly and check in with everyone ... as we all prepare to hunker down for a few weeks,” she said in one of her social media messages, seen and cheered by millions in lockdown. “This feels like the comfort of being tucked into bed at night by my mum,” said a viewer who responded to the post. “Thanks for checking in with us.”
New Zealand’s tally of 589 virus infections, and one death, is far smaller than other countries, such as giant neighbor Australia, which has 4,200 cases and 17 deaths.
Thursday’s lockdown is expected to have far-reaching effect on the export-oriented economy of the nation of five million.
But the 39-year-old prime minister’s clear communication has garnered praise, even from her fiercest critics.
“I think she communicates really clearly and really well,” John Key, a former prime minister and senior leader of the opposition National Party said on a radio show.

I think she (Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern) communicates really clearly and really well.

John Key, Former prime minister

While urging New Zealanders to keep to their own “bubble,” or stay home to save lives, Ardern has also talked about working from her office, spending time with family, and even a struggle with toilet training her daughter, who turns two in June.
Ardern took the helm of the Labour-led government in October 2017, as the youngest female prime minister at the time, and became only the second elected leader to give birth while in office, after Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto.
Her compassionate yet decisive actions after last year’s mass shooting at two Christchurch mosques drew global praise.
But facing domestic criticism for her government’s handling of housing shortages and the economy, Ardern is expected to face a tough re-election contest in September.
On Instagram on Sunday, she described events in her “bubble,” and was asked how toilet training was going with daughter Neve Te Aroha, who was three months old when she accompanied Ardern at her UN debut in 2018. “We are having zero success!” Ardern replied.