With Eid Al Adha just around the corner, health experts in the United Arab Emirates are urging the public to exercise caution and to comply with COVID-19 safety protocols during the celebrations to avoid a spike in cases.
The warning comes after the country’s health body recorded an “increasing number of infections” after the Eid al-Fitr holiday in May.
The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) said cited a failure to comply with COVID-19 rules, including wearing face masks, not social distancing and holding large gatherings during the festivities being a contributor to cases increasing.
Cases rose to more than 2,000 across the country every day after the first Eid holiday, however, in recent weeks numbers have fallen.
Doctors say the public must continue to be cautious to avoid cases climbing again.
Dr Amaka Kate Uzu, a consultant in family medicine at Bareen International Hospital - MBZ City, told Al Arabiya English: “Recent experiences has made us aware that cases of COVID 19 tends to increase after public holidays and celebrations such as Eid.”
“As we draw close to the coming Eid celebration, let us be mindful of this and do our best to take necessary precautions that will protect us from contracting the virus.”
“Such precautions include ensuring you are vaccinated and even if vaccinated continue to maintain physical distance, wear your mask and avoid large gatherings.”
Dr Rajesh Kumar Gupta, specialist internal medicine, Burjeel Specialty Hospital, Sharjah, has advised against marking the Eid holidays with large gatherings.
“Considering the ongoing pandemic, it is suggested to limit the celebrations during the holidays,” the doctor told Al Arabiya English.
“Always wear a face mask, maintain social distancing, disinfect hands by washing or sanitizing and avoid contact with face and eyes.”
“I would advise no large family visits, gatherings or handshakes during Eid holidays and I would urge everyone to avoid visiting pregnant women, children, elderly people with chronic illnesses,” the doctor said.
“Lastly, get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible as there is high risk (of illness) from new strains of the virus for unvaccinated peoples.”
Dr Abdul Aneez, medical director at Medeor Hospital Dubai, echoed the need for caution.
“When the COVID-19 pandemic first started, there was a lot of uncertainty,” he told Al Arabiya English. “Celebrations, like most other social events, became muted.”
“Today, the situation is not as bleak as the cases have come down and vaccination drives are taking place in full swing. But we need to remember that the pandemic is not yet over.
“We must not let our guards down even if we have already received the vaccine. We now have a better understanding of the protocol we need to follow and this will enable us to celebrate the upcoming Eid in a meaningful and safe manner.”
That, he said, included paying attention to the official guidelines while observing the festivities.
“Make it a priority to wear a mask and maintain physical distance while interacting with others. It is wise to limit spending time in enclosed areas or places with large crowds. Let us try to make the most of Eid by celebrating responsibly.”
The UAE has officially surpassed Seychelles in becoming the world’s most vaccinated nation with more than 15.9 million doses, according to the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA).
This number is expected to rise soon with the approval of a third booster dose to those who have taken the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, and the launch of Pfizer vaccines for pregnant women, which was announced in late June.
On Friday Saudi Arabia announced the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha will begin on Tuesday, July 20, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
The Crescent Moon Sighting Department “decided that standing at Arafat shall be on Monday, the 9th the month of Dhu al-Hijjah for this Year 1442 AH, corresponding to July 19, 2021 AD, and the blessed Eid al-Adha shall be on the following day, on Tuesday,” according to SPA.