UAE reports 85 new coronavirus cases, 7 recoveries, as public sector begins work from home policy

Pink flamingoes feed in the mud flats at the Ras al-Khor Wildlife Sanctuary in Dubai, with the city skyline seen in the background, on March 18, 2020 as the site has been closed to the public amidst the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. (File/AFP)
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Updated 27 March 2020

UAE reports 85 new coronavirus cases, 7 recoveries, as public sector begins work from home policy

  • The Ministry of Health and Prevention said the new cases involved people from a number of countries in Europe, Africa and across the Middle East
  • The increase brings the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 333

DUBAI: The UAE has reported 85 new coronavirus cases and seven recoveries, state news agency WAM reported on Wednesday.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention said the new cases involved people from a number of countries in Europe, Africa and across the Middle East.

The increase brings the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 333.

The recovered cases are five Bangladeshi and two Pakistani nationals. The patients left the hospital after making a full recovery, bringing the total number of recovered cases in the country to 52.

Meanwhile al public sector workers in Dubai have been told to work from home from Sunday, March 29, as part of the ongoing efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, state news agency WAM reported.

So far 24 government agencies have achieved 100 percent work from home with only staff remaining in the workplace where their role necessitates it.

Medical professionals and other adults are required by law to notify the authorities of any suspected cases, failure to do so can result in prosecution.

“The detection of one infected case compels the authorities to conduct a necessary investigation among all those in contact with this one case in order to identify the source of the infection and its aftermath,” The official spokesperson of the UAE health sector Dr Farida Al-Hosani said.

“In this we usually detect additional cases. It usually starts with a person coming from abroad who then transmits the virus to others around him or her.”

“The recent precautionary measures announced are aimed at protecting society, with the law to be applied only to violators of the UAE law on communicable diseases, under which violators are subject to jail terms and fines,” she added.

The UAE will impose overnight curfews as a temporary measure this weekend, when it carries out a nationwide disinfection campaign to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.
The regional business hub, which has confirmed 333 cases of the virus and two deaths, has not announced an official curfew or work suspension but has increasingly clamped down on movement.
Authorities announced that the UAE will restrict movement of traffic and people overnight from Thursday until Sunday. The restrictions will last from 8 p.m. (1600 GMT) to 6 a.m.
Only essential service workers would be allowed out and violators will face fines, a security forces spokesman said on Thursday.
Public transport including trams and metro services will be suspended, while private cars, cabs and delivery vehicles can operate outside those hours.

— With input from Reuters


Resumed cargo flights: Thaw in Israel-Turkey ties?

Updated 25 May 2020

Resumed cargo flights: Thaw in Israel-Turkey ties?

  • Ankara’s involvement in Syria’s Idlib province against the Tehran-backed Assad regime has recently provided a common denominator for Turkey and Israel to reconcile
  • Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians remains a major irritant in relations with Ankara – Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday reiterated his support for the Palestinians

ISTANBUL: Israeli airline El Al has resumed cargo flights twice weekly between Tel Aviv and Istanbul for the first time in 10 years — a sign that decade-long bilateral tensions might be easing.
A cargo flight landed in Istanbul on Sunday morning to pick up humanitarian aid and protective equipment destined for US medical teams fighting COVID-19.
Burhanettin Duran, head of the Ankara-based think tank SETA, wrote that Turkey’s regional empowerment is “obliging Israel to search for normalization steps with Ankara.”
Dr. Nimrod Goren, head of the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, said the cargo flight is a positive and visible development in bilateral relations that was probably approved by top government officials on both sides and required diplomatic efforts.
“However, the fact that this step takes place in parallel to a discussion about Israeli annexation in the West Bank, and to criticism of annexation by regional and international actors, might impact how it’s viewed in Turkey,” he told Arab News.
Goren said while the Israeli and Turkish governments continue to have significant policy differences, they should work to restore their relations to ambassadorial level, and to relaunch a strategic dialogue on regional developments of mutual interest.
“The forming of a new Israeli government, and the appointment of Gabi Ashkenazi as a new foreign minister, could be an opportunity to do so, and the cargo flight brings some positive momentum,” he added.
Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador in May 2018 after the US moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Ankara’s involvement in Syria’s Idlib province against the Tehran-backed Assad regime has recently provided a common denominator for Turkey and Israel to reconcile, as it also serves the latter’s strategic interests in weakening the Iranian presence in Syria.
But Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians remains a major irritant in relations with Ankara. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday reiterated his support for the Palestinians. 
In a video message on Twitter, he said the issue of Jerusalem “is a red line for all Muslims worldwide.”
He added that Israel’s “new occupation and annexation project … disrespects Palestine’s sovereignty and international law.”
Ryan Bohl, Middle East analyst at geopolitical-risk firm Stratfor, told Arab News: “Turkey is trying to create economic ties with Israel because … Erdogan is finding the political ground changed, caused in part by demographic changes as young Turks are less incensed by the Palestinian issue, and in part by a general weariness among Turks about putting too much skin in the game to solve the Palestinian question,” 
Israel is expected to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank on July 1 under the terms of a coalition government agreement. Ankara has strongly criticized the plan.
Israeli and Turkish officials are rumored to have held talks behind closed doors to reach a deal on maritime borders and exclusive economic zones in the eastern Mediterranean. 
Israel’s Foreign Ministry recently said it was “proud of our diplomatic relations with Turkey.”
But Goren said it is currently unlikely that Israel will advance a maritime demarcation deal with Turkey as it would shake several regional balances at the same time.
“It will put in jeopardy, and run in contrast to, the important alliances in the eastern Mediterranean that Israel has fostered in recent years with Greece, Cyprus and Egypt,” he added.