Indian consulate in Dubai. Image Credit: Devadasan/Gulf News archives

Dubai: The Indian Consulate in Dubai on Monday said it has mobilised a team of medical volunteers for a COVID-19 isolation facility in Dubai.

The consulate said it had been coordinating various efforts and activities to support the Indian community in Dubai and northern Emirates in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Since yesterday (Sunday), the consulate has been able to mobilise a team of doctors and paramedics volunteers for a COVID-19 isolation facility in Dubai. This is a modest contribution to supplement the massive effort of DHA (Dubai Health Authority) and in the spirit of the historic friendly relations between India and the UAE,” the mission said in a press release.

Ten doctors and 12 nurses are part of the team, the consulate told Gulf News.

“We thank the Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC), the wider Indian community and Dr. Azad Moopen, chairman of Aster Group, with whose efforts this could be achieved. We also thank all doctors and paramedics who have volunteered for this initiative as also community volunteers in particular from KMCC (Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre) involved with the facility,” the mission said.

The consulate also highly appreciated the response from the DHA and other agencies who have been working tirelessly to look after the COVID-19 patients, including Indians.

“Over the past few weeks, we have forwarded requests from several hundred Indians for medical help related to COVID-19 to the relevant authorities. We have received excellent response given the scale and complexity of this unprecedented problem,” it said.

80 deaths, 17 repatriations

The consulate said it registered 80 deaths of Indian nationals during the past four weeks.

“Of these six had died of COVID-19. There could have been some more deaths of Indians due to COVID-19. However, we have only received the registration of these many cases,” consulate told Gulf News.

The mission said it coordinated repatriation of the mortal remains of 17 Indians through the few cargo services available between India and the UAE.

6500 queries from Indians seeking help

The mission stated that almost 6500 enquiries from Indians seeking help have been answered in the past four week.

In the Consulate, two 24×7 helplines (+971-56 5463 903/ 54 3090 575) and the email (cons1.dubai@mea.gov.in) are currently answering queries related to Covid-19.

“Most of the queries have been about flights for going back to India, seeking medical help in Dubai and northern emirates, extension of visas in the UAE and food and medicine requirements. In the past four weeks almost 3500 calls and 3000 emails have been answered.”

“We have also been striving to swiftly answer all queries on our social media accounts (Twitter: @cgidubai, Facebook: @IndianConsulate.Dubai).”

Nineteen Indians continue to be in Dubai Airport as they could not travel to India due to flight restrictions, the mission said. “We thank Emirates Airlines for continuing to look after them. We remain in touch with them and have also given some financial help to them. We hope that they and other people who want to go back to India will be able to travel soon.”

The mission assured members of the Indian community that it will continue to render all assistance to them in the current difficult situation.

“We continue to receive several calls every day from people wishing to go back to India. We hope that the situation will soon become conducive for passenger flights to India to operate.”

“We all have to fight this pandemic together and strengthen the hands of both Government of India and the UAE in arriving at solutions which are beneficial for everyone. India’s provision of hydroxychloroquine tablets for the UAE is one such step of cooperation and collaboration,” it pointed out.

500 calls for tele-medicine

The tele-medicine and tele-psychological counselling numbers (054 3090 571/054 3090 572) which have been working for a week now have answered 500 calls in various languages, the mission said.

“We thank all the doctors and counsellors who gave their consent to help the community.”

“We received some requests for medicines from Indians who are stuck due to the Covid-19 restrictions and have helped at least 35 patients get medicines which were locally available, despite several challenges. This facility is being provided on a means tested basis (for the neediest people who cannot afford to buy their medicines). Such persons can make a request on com.dubai@mea.gov.in with detailed justification of their request.”

The mission said a lot of community organizations have been helping people in need of food or rations.

“Many others who want to help have been approaching us with their wish to do so. We have therefore assigned one dedicated email labour.dubai@mea.gov.in to coordinate these efforts.”

“In the last four weeks we have helped more than 4000 people with food packets or rations both through our Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) and through the community organizations and Indian associations. We have also arranged accommodation for at least 60 people from ICWF.”

100 passport applications to be processed daily

Due to the social distancing norms, Stay Home initiative of Dubai and sterilisation activities as well as the lockdown and other restrictions in India, some of routine services like passport and attestation services are being given only on an emergency basis, while some like visa and OCI remain suspended, the mission stated.

“However, since last week, we have gradually started to take applications for renewal of passports which are expired or will expire by April 30 at the BLS outsourcing centre in Sharjah. We hope to be able to process about 100 passports every day for the next few days. We have also been rendering emergency attestation services.”