When the world began facing an unknown, unpredictable enemy early last year, cities and nations faced tough choices — how to protect people without long-lasting disruption of life and livelihoods. In this war against Coronavirus, some cities tripped, became overwhelmed while facing the disease, death and widespread disruption of lives.
A global account of this battle, when written, will highlight cities that quickly learnt and recalibrated their response to the pandemic. And Dubai will feature prominently for its resilience and farsightedness.
In the last 12 months or so, Dubai has come a long way in balancing Covid restrictions and business, its role as the regional hub of trade and tourism and commitment to defeat the virus.
When the world reacted to the virus by shutting down vast territories, Dubai launched mass screening of neighbourhoods, established massive field hospitals and roped in private health care facilities to treat the infected. On every front, Dubai’s approach was largely proactive
Going by the record of preventive measures adopted by Dubai and the impressive success it achieved in tackling the pandemic --- while minimising impact on the economy and jobs — this city has set an example for others. No matter what the critics say, the city has scored well on two key parameters — infection rate and mortality.
Moreover, Dubai has been able to soften the blow to the economy with multipronged approach for public and private sectors, providing cover to small and large businesses, retail outlets, cafeterias and many others.
While doing so, Dubai continued to maintain the highest levels of protection against the pandemic and compliance of preventive measures recommended by World Health Organisation.
The city was one of the first to create a world class screening mechanism for incoming travellers at airports and those found infected were quarantined in comfortable — some described as luxurious — isolation facilities.
Dubai’s proactive approach
When the world reacted to the virus by shutting down vast territories, Dubai launched mass screening of neighbourhoods, established massive field hospitals and roped in private health care facilities to treat the infected. On every front, Dubai’s approach was largely proactive.
To protect jobs and businesses, it waived government fees and pumped in billions of dirhams — Dh7 billion so far — and deferred bank liabilities for both individuals and establishments.
For schools and educational institutions, it created infrastructure for online learning and allowed resumption of in-class learning after ensuring adequate steps were taken to protect students and teachers.
For government employees, Dubai formulated a work-from-home policy to minimise crowding in offices. The city also acted tough, imposing penalties on people and businesses found violating safety precautions.
Just yesterday, the emirate announced shutting down of two companies, in addition to warning and fining 36 other entities for not adhering to precautionary measures. As a result, compliance to safety measures — from wearing mask to maintaining social distancing — is one of the best in the world.
Today, Dubai is vaccinating thousands of residents and expatriates daily at 120 vaccination centres and is on track to immunise most if not all the residents by end of this year.