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Coronavirus: Dubai changes travel protocols for inbound passengers from Jan. 31

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Dubai changed its coronavirus travel protocols for inbound passengers effective from January 31, amid continually rising numbers of daily COVID-19 infections in the UAE.

The new updates requires UAE residents, GCC citizens and visitors to do a PCR test prior to departure for Dubai irrespective of the country they are coming from, the emirate's media office announced on Wednesday.

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The tourism and travel hub also mandated that arrivals from certain countries (based on the pandemic situation in those countries) require an additional test on arrival in Dubai.

"Protocols will remain the same for UAE citizens returning to the country from overseas, which exempt them from undergoing a PCR test prior to departure, regardless of the country they are coming from. They will only be required to conduct a PCR test on arrival in Dubai," the media office said.

The Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management also reduced the validity period of PCR tests from 96 hours to 72 hours.

Dubai Airports have also been directed to provide Rapid PCR or Rapid Antigen testing at airports in the emirate to facilitate travel procedures for passengers departing from Dubai to countries that require this type of pre-travel test, in accordance with the time-frame specified.

"[The] updated travel protocols... are part of a regular process of revising and optimising precautionary measures based on the latest local, regional and international developments. They are also aimed at enabling the city to continue serving as a global commercial hub and a bridge for travel and trade between the east and west," Dubai authorities said.

The number of daily coronavirus infections in the UAE has been consistently rising since the beginning of January, crossing the 2,000 threshold for the first time since the pandemic broke on January 6, and the 3,000 mark on January 12. The country reported its highest yet daily number of infections on Wednesday, at 3,939 cases.

The country's coronavirus tally currently stands at 289,087 confirmed cases, 263,730 recovered patients and 811 deaths. The global pandemic has infected over 100 million people and claimed the lives of over 2.1 million.

On January 22, Dubai began increasing precautionary measures against the spread of COVID-19, instructing gyms to increase physical distancing between sports equipment and trainees from 2 to 3 meters, mandating restaurants and cafes increase distance separating tables from 2 to 3 meters and reducing the number of patrons at one table, as well as limiting the number of attendees at weddings, social events and private parties to a maximum of 10 people only.

Elective surgeries have also been suspended until February 19. The list of elective surgeries includes but is not limited to neurosurgical procedures, fractures and corrective orthopaedic procedures, cardiological and radiological interventions, stone and urological stent removals, and other urgent procedures in general surgery, ophthalmology, paediatrics, obstetrics, gynaecology and other specialties.

The UAE has ramped up its vaccination campaign with the aim of immunizing more than 50 percent of its population by the first quarter of 2021. So far more than 2.6 million vaccine doses have been administered.

The National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) said: "The UAE ranked secnd in the world in daily doses last week, with an average of 6.06 doses per 100 people. It is the fifth country in the world to provide COVID-19 vaccination doses after the United States, China, the United Kingdom and Israel."

The three coronavirus vaccines currently registered in the UAE are Sinophram, Pfizer and Sputnik V.

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