Medical workers in protective suits move a patient to an isolation ward. Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: As the rate of recovery doubles and incidence of COVID-19 infections reduces, several hospitals in the UAE have been declared coronavirus-free.

In Dubai, at least a dozen hospitals are now free from COVID-19.

Of the 50,857 cases, 39,857 have recovered which amounts to a recovery rate of 78 per cent. The death toll has remained low at 321.

This has helped the government move towards opening up all sectors and limiting COVID-19 treatment to select health-care facilities, while reopening others as COVID-free health centres.

The procedure to declare them COVID-free involves discharging the last of moderate-to-critical patients in their intensive care units, conducting thorough santisation and stringent inspection by Dubai Health Authority (DHA). Once satisfied, the DHA issues the COVID–free certification.

Hospitality industry sources said that most hotels that were booked for asymptomatic and mild patients in quarantine, were now thoroughly cleaned, sanitised and ready to receive tourists and visitors.

Community transmission of COVID-19 has slackened

Dr Adil Mohammad Yasin Al Sisi

Discharging the last of the five patients in its COVID ward on June 27 and on being declared COVID free on July 1, Dr Adil Mohammad Yasin Al Sisi, chief medical officer of Prime Hospital, said: “From more than 250 patients admitted in our hospital in the peak of the pandemic from Mid-March to April 1, we are happy to have zero admissions now. Even the hotel we took up for asymptomatic and mild patients was given up as numbers fell. I think the DHA medicine protocol, the education and awareness programme of the community and the National Sterilisation Programme all had a part to play in the slowing down of community transmission.”

Of the seven Mediclinic Hospitals, six have been declared COVID-free. Only one of their branches now admits a declining number of coronavirus patients.

Dr. Tarek Fathey

Dr Tarek Fathey, chief operating officer, Mediclinic Middle East, told Gulf News: “Except for one, six of our hospitals spread over Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain have been certified COVID–free by DHA. We have had deep cleaning, sanitsation and thorough infection control protocols in place. These were carried out before the outpatient departments opened full-fledged and elective surgeries resumed. This has been made possible only because of the stringent health protocols in place. This is proof that the UAE has established itself as a successful model of containment and management of the pandemic very effectively.”

Dr Sherbaz Bichu

Dr Sherbaz Bichu, CEO and specialist anaesthetist, at Aster Hospitals, UAE, told Gulf News that their hospital in Mankhool was COVID-free and the branch in Al Qusais was in the process of attaining that status. Describing the journey from March, Dr Bichu said: “During peak [pandemic] time, we were receiving 100 to 150 cases a day in OPD and had 80 to 85 in-patients. There were times when we did not have enough beds to accommodate patients, both moderate and critically ill. Now the number of stable patients reporting to outpatient clinics have drastically come down. We still have 50-plus in-patients in our different hospitals.”

The Aster Group had also taken up two hotel quarantine facilities, managing 1,300 patients of different nationalities for more than two months. Now, the hotels have been emptied out and handed back. But the fight is not over yet and Dr Bichu recounted the efforts the group was making to help the government. “In view of supporting Dubai Government in fighting COVID-19, Aster has commissioned a new 50-bed hospital in Sonapur, exclusively for COVID-19 patients.

All Medcare facilities COVID-free

Dr Andre Daoud, CEO, Medcare Hospitals and Medical Centres, told Gulf News that all their hospitals and medical centres have been declared COVID–free.

“This means that all our facilities are now ‘clean’ allowing for a safe continuity of medical care for all patients who have not been affected by coronavirus.

“We have resumed our in-patient and out-patient activities in a COVID-free environment so that we can continue providing quality care to more than 1.2 million patients we treat every year across our hospitals and medical centres.

Dr Andre Daoud

“Medcare catered to more than 2,500 COVID-19 patients, out of which, 85 per cent were asymptomatic and mild, 10–12 per cent were moderate-to-severe, and 3-5 per cent were critical ICU cases,” he added. “We had taken over two hotels in Dubai, which were considered as an extension of our hospitals, admitting COVID-19 patients for as long as it was needed to obtain two negative viral test reports.”

Dr Daoud said maintaining the COVID-free status required staff to be extra vigilant. We have put in extra-safety measures across our facilities. Ou-tpatients who might be identified with the virus will be immediately triaged, isolated and transferred to other facilities.

In the capital, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, Healthpoint and Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC) announced the resumption of regular services on June 23, which included out-patient consultations and elective surgeries.

In the meantime, patients who test positive for COVID-19, if asymptomatic or with mild symptoms, can either be qurantined at home or at government-designated isolation centres. For moderate-to-severe and critical patients, there are many designated hospitals equipped with ICUs and ventilators. Residents need to download the ALHOSN UAE app for test results and guidance in case they need hospital admission.