The new strain is more infectious and has the potential to increase the number of infections.
Medical experts are urging residents to stick to social distancing protocols and avoid gatherings. With Covid still around, it’s not yet time to party, they said.
Doctors said private parties irresponsibly held during the festive season could be one of the reasons behind the recent spike in cases. The UAE registered 1,856 cases on January 1 and by January 7, it shot up to 2,988. In a virtual briefing last week, authorities said the rise in infections could be attributed to the increased movement of people between emirates, in addition to cases coming from outside the UAE.
Dr Salvin George, internal medicine specialist at Medcare Hospital–Al Safa, said there could be residents who failed to observe precautionary measures during the last festive parties, from Christmas to New Year.
“The majority of cases we have seen in the past two weeks could have happened because of private parties where people celebrated without precautions.”
Dr George underlined that a quick downturn in numbers is possible if everyone remains vigilant and follows all protocols set in place by the authorities.
Asked whether the increase is related to the new strain of Covid, the expert said it would be hard to tell for sure because differentiating the mutated virus from the original one is “clinically impossible at this stage”. In case one contracts the new strain, he/she will test positive via PCR tests, but labs won’t be able to tell which type of Covid virus had caused the infection.
Late in December, authorities confirmed that there had been a limited number of cases of the new Covid strain, and the affected individuals had come from abroad.
Studies suggest that the new strain could be more infectious and may have the potential to increase the number of infections, explained Dr Vishnu Chaitanya Swaroopa Sura, internal medicine specialist of Medeor Hospital – Dubai. “According to data from foreign countries, the new strain has caused a ‘relative increase’ in infections. At the same time, there is no data to suggest it is likely to lead to serious illness,” he said.
Dr Vishnu urged community members to take the vaccination in order to achieve herd immunity. “We have seen in the past how effectively vaccination led to achieving herd immunity and stopped the spread of deadly diseases. The UAE leaders have ensured adequate steps in this direction through initiating mass vaccination programmes. It will help to increase immunity, which will eventually lead to reduce the number of infections. So, it is the responsibility of everyone to get vaccinated. So that we can protect ourselves and break the chain of infection,” Dr Vishnu added.