UAE: Covid-19 cases drop below 100 boosting post-virus goals


From a peak of over 4,000 cases a day in March 2020, the United Arab Emirates reported fewer than 100 coronavirus cases, days after the Gulf state’s de facto ruler declared the crisis over.

The country’s ministry of health reported 99 new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday (Oct. 17), marking the first time the case count has dropped below 100 since the outbreak of the pandemic last year.

The dwindling daily infection rate, combined with one of the fastest vaccination programs, has helped burnish the country’s credentials as a post-Covid haven.

The UAE moved up nine spots to sixth place on Bloomberg’s latest Covid resilience rankings.

Travel restrictions to key markets, including Britain, the United States, Saudi Arabia and India have eased and the country is hosting an array of events over the next few months. Expo 2020, the biggest, is already underway in Dubai. The Cricket World Cup started on Sunday.

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan said this month the coronavirus is under control and “less dangerous than before”.

The UAE has been trying to rebuild after Covid-19 hammered the economy and forced thousands of expatriates to leave.

Events including Expo will boost tourism and analysts say they could encourage high-net worth individuals to either move to the country or establish a second base.

At their peak, infections soared to 4,000 a day as tourists escaped lockdowns across Europe for the UAE’s sunny weather and beaches during the winter. A travel corridor with Britain brought in scores of holidaymakers, but it was shut as cases spiked.

To combat the surge, Dubai instituted curbs and the capital, Abu Dhabi, required visitors from other emirates to show a negative Covid-19 test. Still, the country has shunned lockdowns after emerging from one last summer.

A high rate of testing – close to 3% of the country’s population of 10 million are tested daily – and an aggressive vaccination campaign underpinned that decision.

The UAE rolled out vaccines in December, initially with Sinopharm, but it later approved shots from Pfizer and BioNTech, as well as AstraZeneca and Sputnik V.

The open-city approach seems to be working for tourists. The first 10 days of Expo 2020 saw 411,768 ticketed visits. One in three visitors came from abroad, a proportion expected to increase as international travel ramps up. (Source: The Straits Times)