DUBAI (Reuters) – Dubai has suspended elective surgeries for a month and live music at restaurants and hotels indefinitely as coronavirus infections surge in the Middle East trade hub.
Non-essential surgeries have been halted to ensure that health facilities are prepared to manage COVID-18 cases, Dubai’s health regulator said in a circular on Wednesday.
“Elective therapeutic surgeries” that require deep sedation or general anesthesia would only be permitted in stances of medical emergencies or necessity, it said.
Live entertainment, including DJs, live bands and performers, at hotels, restaurants and beach clubs are suspended until further notice, the tourism deparment said in circulars.
Violations of coronavirus precautions at hotels and restaurants had increased during “entertainment activities,” one circular said.
New daily infections of the novel coronavirus in the UAE reached a record 3,529 on Thursday, the health ministry said, the highest in the Gulf Arab region, where daily tallies in each of the other five states have fallen below 500.
The UAE does not give a breakdown of infections in each emirate.
Visitors have continued to flock to Dubai, an international travel hub that is gearing up to host an expected 25 million visitors for an Expo 2020 world fair from October, even as other countries imposed new lockdowns.
The UAE has lifted most coronavirus restrictions but mask-wearing in public and social distancing are still required.
Declan O’Sullivan, an Irish musician living in Dubai, resumed live performances in August. Events and revenues have been 30%-40% of what they were before the pandemic, he told Reuters after the new live music ban was announced, but he was thankful for the opportunity to work.
“That’s my perspective on this shutdown again. As long as the bars can stay open and people can go out – if the entertainers have to take a bit of pain for a while and not be able to perform – better that than prolong it for a longer period … I still count myself very, very lucky.”
The Gulf state has ramped up its immunisation campaign with the aim of vaccinating more than 50% of its roughly 9 million population, the majority of whom are expatriates, before the end of March.
It has approved the vaccine developed by Sinopharm’s China National Pharmaceutical Group and made it available to the general public. Dubai is also inoculating people with the vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTec.
(Reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh, Ghaida Ghantous, Lisa Barrington and Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Robert Birsel and Mark Heinrich)