The Trade Centre Roundabout in Dubai on April 5 2020. Image Credit: Atiq Ur Rehman/Gulf News

The streets are mostly empty. You might occasionally find a taxi, an optimistic cabbie looking for that passenger with an emergency. Most people are staying at home. That’s encouraging. Because it means people in the UAE realise the importance of social distancing and how integral it is in the fight against the new coronavirus.

Over the last several weeks, the UAE had rolled out a string of stringent measures in a fervent attempt to stamp out the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Those steps have had the desired effect of slowing the spread of the virus. That is not enough. We are facing a global pandemic. It is the biggest health crisis of our time. It has to be dealt with the seriousness it deserves.

The disinfection drive (National Sterilisation Programme) launched two weeks ago required us to remain indoors from 8pm to 6am. The response from the citizens and residents was very good. Only people with emergencies ventured out as municipality workers went about spraying germicides to make our streets safe.

We have to follow the rules

That’s not enough. More needs to be done. The high number of cases in the United States, Italy and Spain are a stark reminder of the gravity of the contagion. This virus is not to be trifled with.

The UAE authorities are well aware of the virulence of the pathogen. Dubai on Saturday extended the disinfection campaign by two weeks. This time people have been asked to stay off the streets for 24 hours. The restrictions are severe, and penalties very high. It is a clear indication of how grave the situation is.

We have to abide by the rules. There’s no compromise. The UAE is pulling out all stops to safeguard our health. It is our responsibility to follow the guidelines so that we eliminate the pathogen from this country.

Stay at home. Step out only if it’s urgent. Go alone to groceries. Wear gloves and masks in public places. Practise social distancing. Keep out everybody –– friends too. They will understand. Call them up. Better still, video conference with friends and relatives. Work from home. Use technology to surmount the barriers erected to keep out the virus.

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Once the threat of the virus abates we can rebuild our lives. Now, it’s about saving ourselves and safeguarding others too. That way we can keep the community and country safe.

We have to win the COVID-19 war. Only then can we return to the lives we know. Let’s wait for the days when the movie halls and malls reopen. The parks and beaches will be there for us. We just have to wait.

Till then, stay indoors. Eat well, sleep well and stay healthy. Let’s flatten the curve. We are in this fight together.

Stay home. Stay safe