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Image Credit: Seyyed de la Llata/Gulf News

Dubai: As the UAE government continues to urge residents to maintain social distancing and take other precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country, a British expat talks of how he has managed to keep the virus at bay.

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Lee Harris Image Credit: Supplied

Lee Harris, a running coach who manages Lifestyle Fitness Management in Dubai, said his present occupation and his previous role as a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) superintendent in the oil and gas industry that had taught him things that are holding him in good stead now.

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“Isolation is not new to me. When the UAE government announced the national sterilisation drive, I was absolutely fine with it. In many ways, my previous job helped me survive COVID-19. I have been getting on with my life like I would on a regular non-COVID day – of course while adhering to social distancing protocols. There is no need to panic or fear. You can be COVID-free and never contract the virus if you stay responsible and follow the guidelines set out by the government.”

“Running has always been a part of my life and I’ve always been an athlete since a young age. I took up ultra-trail running 10 years ago here in the UAE and have run over 20,000 kilometers in the deserts and mountainous areas of the country. Dealing with COVID-19 has not been easy, but one that can be managed with mental strength and will power.”

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Running, says Harris, has kept him physically fit Image Credit: Supplied

Unique challenges

For a man who ran 300km across Oman and coached runners over the last five years, he said the pandemic brought along with it unique challenges. “I believe as long as you continue to do what’s right, stay true to what you are doing and not panic, you will come through it all fine.

“One of the things I did during the lockdown was stay mentally busy. I did a lot of reading and research on the science of running, studying aspects of how the human body works. During this time, I also followed news on protocols to follow for social distancing. So I stayed home in my villa. I remained indoors and only stepped out once a week to buy some groceries.”

He said during his previous role in the oil and gas industry, he was used to staying by himself. “So the isolation part of the pandemic did not bother me at all. I kept myself busy doing many online courses as I had an obligation to my clients to keep them fit and healthy. I turned into an online coach.”

He said, “It was also important to stay physically fit, so the body’s immune system is constantly kept active.”

When the restrictions were partially lifted, Lee and his team of runners hit the mountains for a trail run. “We followed due protocol and wore our masks while running. When the government announced there is no need of wearing a mask while doing a strenuous workout – we went back to running without masks.”

“Just don’t let fear set in your mind. When you do – it disturbs your thinking. Also, you attract the exact energy that you are trying to escape from. So keep that mind busy and away from constantly fearing the virus. I would say carry on with your life as normal as possible. But stay responsible in your actions.”