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UAE official says 3 to 4 weeks from flattening curve

The United Arab Emirates could bring the coronavirus pandemic under control within a month if people continue to adhere to lockdown measures, according to a UAE government health official.

“We hope that within three to four weeks, if everyone co-operates, that we will flatten the curve,” said Dr Sajwani, a family medicine specialist the Ministry of Health and Prevention and member of the national awareness team for COVID-19.

However, he warned that the outbreak could be prolonged should citizens decide to ignore government social distancing measures.

“Flattening the curve depends on the people. If they do not [help], the government has to take strong measures to let them stay home. It will take longer if people do not co-operate.”

He said that the bulk of people were co-operating but others are “not taking the disease seriously”.

“Some of them are still gathering, and, as suspected, not sticking to proper quarantine,” he said.

Sajwani urged the necessity of a continued 24-hour home lockdown on the population and predicted that other emirates would soon follow suit and roll out stricter travel restrictions.

Increased testing

Last week, 300 new cases were confirmed per day, but Sajwani urged calm, putting the spike down to an increase in testing rather than an uptick in infection rates.

“Every day the number of people is increasing and this is because testing is increasing,” he said.

He said the country has been testing about 15,000 to 20,000 people per day, in an attempt to emulate the mass testing seen in Germany and South Korea, which has been credited with bringing the outbreak under control.

“We are one of the top countries in the world for mass testing … above 600,000 which is very high. It is very important,” he said.

“Most of the cases are mild and many of them receive no treatment. Only some cases need treatment but, again, we will not reach zero cases soon.”

Flattening the curve

Sajwani’s reference to ‘flattening the curve’, a term used widely by health officials worldwide since the coronavirus outbreak, refers to preventing the number of infected patients from overwhelming the health system by spreading them out over an extended period of time.

A steep increase in the number of people requiring hospital services at one time could cripple even a health system like the one in the Emirates.

Social distancing is seen as the leading measure to avoid such a scenario by slowing down the rate of infection and giving the virus less avenues by which to spread, allowing hospitals to treat those in need with maximum resources.

The peak of the curve is also considered a point after which infections should be expected to slow.

The development and distribution of a vaccine could take up to 18 months, according to some predictions. Source