DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — After opening itself to New Year’s revellers, Dubai is now being blamed by several countries for spreading the coronavirus abroad, even as questions swirl about the city-state’s ability to handle reported record spikes in virus cases.
The government’s Dubai Media Office says the sheikhdom is doing all it can to handle the pandemic. However, it has repeatedly declined to answer questions from The Associated Press about its hospital capacity.
After a year of managing the pandemic, we can confidently say the current situation is under control, and we have our plans to surge any capacity in the health care system should a need arise,” it said.
However, Nasser al-Shaikh, Dubai’s former finance chief, offered a different assessment Thursday on Twitter and asked authorities to take control of a spiralling caseload.
“The leadership bases its decisions on recommendations from the team, the wrong recommendations which put human souls in danger and negatively affect our society,” he wrote, adding that “our economy requires accountability.”
Dubai, known for its long-haul carrier Emirates, the world’s tallest building and its beaches and bars, in July became one of the first travel destinations to describe itself as open for business. The move staunched the bleeding of its crucial tourism and real estate sectors after lockdowns and curfews cratered its economy.
As tourism restarted, daily reported coronavirus case numbers slowly grew but mostly remained stable through the fall.
Since late December, Israel has required those coming from the UAE to go into a two-week quarantine. Israel later shut down its main international airport through the end of the month over rising cases.
“International travel, right now, should not be happening unless it’s necessary,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC this week. “No parties in Paris or at weekends in Dubai. That is not on, and in most cases, it’s against the law.”