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Image Credit: Seyyed de la Llata/Gulf News

Dubai: If there is one thing that is reassuring at a time when COVID-19 continues to hold the world to ransom, it is the fact that we live in the UAE. Not that the country has been spared by the beastly virus. Far from it. But the efforts of the government in containing new cases over the last few months have been relentless, yielding exemplary results.

From the 800-plus highs of daily new cases in May, the numbers nosedived to the 100s earlier this month, touching a low of 164 on August 3. Active coronavirus cases in the UAE began to steadily decline by mid-June itself, with recoveries overtaking new infections and no fatalities reported at one point. All of this indicated that the country was on its way to flattening the curve.

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But the past one week has come as a spoiler. The sudden spike in new cases which have crossed the 400-mark again is raising concerns.

So what went wrong?

Unarguably, the authorities have done all they can – and more – to take on the coronavirus. There are well-defined precautionary protocols and robust tracing mechanisms in place, with the UAE being ranked among the top five countries in the world in terms of per capita COVID-19 testing. The UAE has also hosted the world’s first Phase III trials of an inactivated vaccine for the virus.

But could it be that these measures and milestones from which we should be deriving confidence are being misconstrued as a licence for complacence?

When business activities resumed, we were told it was safe to go out – but not without wearing a mask or maintaining social distance. When movement restrictions were eased, we could meet friends and family again – but in a responsible manner.

Regretfully, the riders are being given a miss. The urge to bounce back to life as we knew it earlier is understandable. But the pandemic is not over yet.

As officials point out, the long Eid weekend exposed just how vulnerable we remain in the face of the volatile virus. The rise in new cases has been unequivocally attributed to people gathering in large numbers with scant regard to precautionary measures.

The message is loud and clear. We have come a long way in the combat against COVID-19 ever since the first cases were reported in the UAE on January 29. And now, more than ever, is when we need to show restraint and not let our guard down. It is time to commit ourselves to the government’s efforts to crush the coronavirus completely.

At Gulf News, we have launched a concerted campaign – #ZeroTogetherUAE – towards this end. We appeal to our readers to join hands with us to make the UAE – and the world at large – COVID-free at the earliest.

Let’s act responsibly, wash our hands, wear those masks and keep that social distance.