Opinion and Editorial

KT edit: Welcome to the safe normal at Expo 2020

Last updated on September 15, 2021 at 10.43 pm

The UAE’s Covid containment and prevention success story through vaccinations is worthy of global emulation. And with Expo 2020 only 15 days away, the country is staying with the safe normal by testing, vaccinating and maintaining Covid protocols for the big event. It was first off the blocks in vaccinations and has covered 80 per cent of the population since December last year. Smart tracking and tracing of cases helped it keep numbers lower even before jabs made it to arms. Both private and government hospitals joined in the national effort to fight coronavirus. The plan was to return to a normal people could deal with sans the massive disruption caused by the pathogen as it spread unchecked last year. Borders were closed and life came to a standstill, almost.

But the strategy helped turn the tide against coronavirus and health and government officials understand that the pandemic is still a reality in most parts of the world. Fatalities have fallen and the worst may be over, but it’s still the coronavirus that is setting the pace. Much depends on how it behaves and mutates. Vaccinations, while preventing severe illness, is not the one way out of this crisis. In fact, the solution is layered. PCR tests play a key role in the early detection of the disease. These tests are even more affordable at Dh50 as the kits are in abundant supply and the health system is connected digitally. Where else but in the UAE does one receive test results in four hours?

And speaking of digital infrastructure, the UAE saw the crisis as an opportunity and ramped up its virtual health system. It was a smart and effective approach, and the results are showing in the lower numbers this year. This was crisis management at its best. So when the vaccines gained emergency approvals from December last year, the UAE was among the first countries to begin a national vaccination campaign for all residents. If the National Sterilsation Campaign at the start of a containment war on the virus, the vaccine campaign was the beginning of a concerted fightback. Looking back, what a glorious comeback it has been for the country that leads in vaccination rates! It has a range of vaccines in its arsenal and is also jabbing kids below 12 years. For the UAE, the pandemic has been a story of resilience, fortitude and a spectacular return from those dark days of 2020. Now, as it prepares to welcome the world to the Expo, it has lessons on health security in what may be called the safe normal.