Health experts in the United Arab Emirates have urged residents to celebrate the Christmas and New Year festive season with caution and adhere to safety protocols amid fears over the omicron variant and soaring cases of COVID-19 across the country.
Speaking to Al Arabiya English, Rajesh Kumar Gupta, a specialist in internal medicine, at Burjeel Speciality Hospital, Sharjah, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives, especially the way we celebrate religious and social observances, like Christmas and New Year.”
“Traditionally festivals and events allow us to reconnect with our friends and family, but today, we are not able to mark these occasions as we have done in the past,” Gupta added.
“As the pandemic is far from over with the new omicron variant, which is far more contagious and spreading very fast all over the world, it is important to be responsible to protect ourselves and our family members by getting a COVID-19 vaccine and a booster dose as well.”
The doctor also urged everyone to follow government guidelines to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
“We know that laxity in adhering to the protocol could result in an increase in the daily reported infections so we should always wear a face mask, use hand sanitizer and adhere to physical distancing (1.5 meter) and follow other precautions. like avoiding greeting people with hand shaking or embracing them.”
“Since large parties could lead to a spike in cases, it is a good idea to restrict numbers and celebrate with immediate family members who are already vaccinated.”
Pregnant women, children, and those belonging to any high-risk group should stay away from the celebrations or be extra cautious, the doctor added.
“Online celebrations are also an interesting way to share our happiness with others and keep our traditions alive. So, this Christmas and New Year, let us retain the celebratory spirit and be proactive in ensuring the safety of our community.”
“Also, it is very important vaccinated people get the booster jab to protect themselves from the infections.”
Dr. Karthikeyan Dakshinamoorthy, a specialist in internal medicine at NMC Royal Hospital, DIP, Dubai, reiterated the note of caution during the festivities.
“The UAE is reporting the highest number of detected COVID-19 cases since the pandemic was under control.”
“The numbers on the omicron variant are unavailable. We all knew that COVID-19 spreads through aerosol or droplets.”
“As New Year and Christmas nears, we all tend to gather or go to events to celebrate.”
“All these activities carry significant risks. If you are planning for a family gathering, keep the guests in minimum numbers, while following safety protocols. If you are planning to go to events, check for the safety protocols followed by the organizers. Those who are at high risk should stay home.”
“It’s better to stay home and enjoy safely with family for this Christmas and New Year.”
Dr. Dakshinamoorthy warned COVID-19 cases are increasing in number and affirmed this is mostly due to increased interaction between people and “laxity to follow COVID-19 safety protocols.”
“As the New Year and Christmas nears and there is a mood for celebrations, we must understand the gravity of the current situation and act accordingly. Utmost care should be taken to adhere to safety protocols and avoid close gatherings if possible.”
“Vaccines do not prevent us from getting infection, but it prevents development of severe covid. A vaccinated and infected person, even though asymptomatic, can transmit the virus. Be safe.”
Dr. Anuradha Ajesh, a specialist in pediatrics at Bareen International Hospital, MBZ Abu Dhabi City, advised staying home with the family is the best way to celebrate Christmas and New Year.
“Indoor parties are more dangerous. Better to skip large parties this year. Studies showed, you are more likely to get COVID-19 from our relatives than from strangers.”
“Outdoor celebrations are safer with masks, social distancing and hand hygiene. This combination reduces the spread of coronavirus.”
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