Health officials in the United Arab Emirates have urged the public to follow COVID-19 safety rules when they mark Eid al-Adha and have released new protocols for the Muslim celebrations, as they reveal past holidays have led up to an increase in new cases of more than 500 percent.
The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) revealed during a health briefing that they have collated data from the past three major holidays in the UAE correlating the celebrations with a significant increase in new COVID-19 infections.
After Eid al-Fitr this year, the average daily ratio of COVID-19 cases reached more than 2,000 cases – the equivalent to an increase of more than 60 percent – while after the New Year celebration, cases across the Emirates reached a daily ratio of 2,700 cases, equivalent to an increase of more than 200 percent.
During Eid al-Adha last year, the average daily ratio of COVID-19 infections amounted to more than 1,400 cases which, at the time, was equivalent to an increase of more than 500 percent.
Health sector spokesperson Dr Farida al-Hosani urged the public to ensure a similar spike does not occur during the upcoming Eid al-Adha.
“We review these statistics with you to confirm that the responsibility today is shared between us, and your commitment to precautionary measures, especially during these occasions, contributes positively to reducing these rates,” she told the health briefing. “It is the responsibility of everyone. We must be socially responsible and show awareness.”
“The UAE sectors are playing their role to protect and keep you safe. So, contribute and play your positive role in supporting the national efforts. Celebrate while securing your health.”
NCEMA have also released new Eid al-Adha safety protocols ahead of the celebrations.
Prayers will be held for no longer than 15 minutes at mosques, while safety signs will be displayed in the outdoor areas of places of worship. Worshippers will also be asked to bring their own prayer mats and socially distanced markers will be placed on prayer spots.
People are asked to avoid large gatherings, refrain from shaking hands or hugging at Eid prayers and to get tested before vising elderly relatives. People have also been asked to avoid exchanging and distributing meat, gifts and foods among neighbors.
Gatherings should be limited to families living in the same household and with just first-degree relatives.
The UAE has combatted the pandemic with vigorous testing and safety measures and has officially surpassed Seychelles in becoming the world’s most vaccinated nation with more than 15.9 million doses, according to NCEMA.
Dr al-Hosani said the UAE has also now ranked first in a Bloomberg index in terms of the percentage of its population to be vaccinated.
To date, the UAE has now administered more than 16 million COVID-19 doses across the country, with 76 per cent of the population receiving at least one dose and 66.3 per cent being fully vaccinated.