Dubai cancels non-essential surgery, live entertainment as COVID-19 cases surge


FILE PHOTO: A man receives a dose of a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at St. Paul's Church in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates January 16, 2021. REUTERS/Khushnum Bhandari

DUBAI (Reuters) - Dubai has suspended non-essential surgery for a month and live entertainment in hotels and restaurants until further notice as coronavirus infections surge.

Dubai's health regulator said in a circular published on its website on Wednesday that the decision, which takes effect on Thursday and could be extended, was aimed at ensuring the preparedness of health facilities to manage COVID-19 cases.

Similarly, Dubai's tourism department issued a circular, seen by Reuters, suspending entertainment in hotels and restaurants after recording an increase in violations.

Dubai Tourism did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment, though the state media office confirmed on in a post on Twitter that entertainment permits had been suspended.

The daily number of infections in the United Arab Emirates, which includes Dubai, crossed the 3,000 threshold on Jan. 12 and has continued to climb, hitting 3,506 on Wednesday. It is the highest in the Gulf Arab region where daily cases in each of the other five states have fallen below 500.

The UAE does not give a breakdown for each emirate.

Visitors have flocked to Dubai, an international travel hub that is gearing up to host the Expo 2020 world fair in October, as other countries imposed new lockdowns.

The UAE has lifted most coronavirus restrictions but mask-wearing in public and social distancing are still required. Britain this month removed the UAE from its travel corridors list due to the spike in infections.

The Gulf state has ramped up its immunisation campaign with the aim of vaccinating more than 50% of its roughly 9 million population, a 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 inoculating people with the vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTec.

(Reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh, Ghaida Ghantous and Alexander Cornwell; editing by John Stonestreet)

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