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Long tailbacks on Dubai-Sharjah roads on Tuesday morning

Tuesday morning rush hour caused long tailbacks on key Dubai-Sharjah roads. The national Met department (NCM) issued a fog alert for today.

According to Google Maps, tailbacks were reported on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road and E11.

Long tailbacks on Dubai-Sharjah roads on Tuesday morning (KT26193929.PNG)

Police advised motorists to follow traffic rules and drive cautiously in the foggy weather.

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Former Pakistan president Zardari moves Islamabad High Court to quash references

Former Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari on Monday filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC), seeking to quash the money laundering and Park Lane references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), The Express Tribune reported.

Zardari pleaded he was not guilty in the said references and should be acquitted.

He prayed that references be quashed as they are “without jurisdiction, illegal, unlawful, null and void ab initio”.

In September, IHC had extended Zardari’s interim bail till October 15 and directed NAB to submit a reply again.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Pakistan People’s Party Chairman, called the cases and court appearances during the Covid-19 pandemic as victimisation of the opposition.

Victimization of opposition continues during global pandemic. 2 yrs of Court appearances; ECL & Jail, President Zardari & Faryal Talpur continue to face courts. Runaway Dictator traitor, 3 special assistants, ministers & PMs sister won’t be summoned because we have 2 laws in ???? .

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Nasal spray causes a ‘rapid eradication’ of Covid virus

Australian biotech company Ena Respiratory said on Monday that a nasal spray it is developing to improve the human immune system to fight common cold and flu significantly reduced the growth of the coronavirus in a recent study on animals.

A study on ferrets showed the product dubbed INNA-051, which could be used complementary to vaccines, lowered the levels of the virus that causes Covid-19 by up to 96 per cent, the company said. The study was led by British government agency Public Health England.

Dr Christophe Demaison, Ena Respiratory managing director, said in a statement carried by the UK’s Metro newspaper: “We’ve been amazed with just how effective our treatment has been. By boosting the natural immune response of the ferrets with our treatment, we’ve seen a rapid eradication of the virus.

“If humans respond in a similar way, the benefits of treatment are two-fold. Individuals exposed to the virus would most likely rapidly eliminate it, with the treatment ensuring that the disease does not progress beyond mild symptoms. 

“This is particularly relevant to vulnerable members of the community. In addition, the rapidity of this response means that the infected individuals are unlikely to pass it on, meaning a swift halt to community transmission.”

Ena Respiratory said it would be ready to test INNA-051 in human trials in less than four months, subject to successful toxicity studies and regulatory approval.

The company has raised A$11.7 million (Dh43 million) for the development of the spray. Investors include venture capital firm Brandon Capital Ltd, the Australian federal government, pension funds and biotech giant CSL Ltd.

Several companies across the world are in the pursuit of developing a coronavirus vaccine. Australia has entered into agreements with some drug companies investing billions to secure potential vaccines for Covid-19, which has killed over 992,000 people worldwide.

Australia has so far reported 875 deaths and just over 27,000 coronavirus cases, far less than the numbers reported in other developed countries.

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Special: UAE plans to be become AI capital in 10 years

The UAE aims to be the capital of artificial intelligence in the next decade and is cooperating with friendly countries and international partners in line with fourth industrial revolution, said Mohammed Ahmad Al Bowardi, the UAE’s Minister of State for Defence Affairs.

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UAE unemployment rate among lowest in the world

The number of employed people in the UAE accounted for 97.8 per cent of the country’s working age population by the end of 2019, figures by the The Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority (FCSA) have shown. The FCSA said this indicates that the majority of the total population are engaged in economically productive activities.

The number of workforce was 7.388 million in the reference year, a growth of 2.2 per cent from 7.225 million in 2018, according to the study, which estimated the unemployment rate at 2.2 per cent, which is among the lowest on record worldwide.

The working-age population accounts for 82 per cent of the country’s total population, with women accounting for 58 per cent of the workforce in 2019, up from 52.7 per cent in 2018, said the study.

For women, the unemployment rate declined from 5.9 per cent in 2018 to 5.1 per cent in 2019, while employment rose from 94.1 pct to 94.9 during the reference period.

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Weather warning: NCM says fog to engulf parts of UAE

The National Center of Meteorology (NCM) has warned there is a chance of fog formation and deteriorating horizontal visibility over some internal and coastal areas this morning.

The weather bureau says such conditions are expected between 1am and 9.30am.

Chance of fog formation and deteriorating horizontal visibility to lower levels and lacking at times over some internal and coastal areas, from 01:00 till 09:30 AM Tuesday 29 / 09 / 2020. pic.twitter.com/SomssbUbnG

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200 travellers barred from Dubai flight over invalid Covid tests

Over 200 Dubai-bound Indian passengers were barred from boarding their flights on Monday because their Covid-19 test results were deemed invalid, airport authorities said. They were carrying RT-PCR reports from blacklisted laboratories.

A total of 117 passengers were denied permission to board an Air India Express flight from Kerala’s Kannur International Airport, which left for Dubai at 2pm (UAE time) on Monday, Rajesh Poduwal, head of operations at the airport, told Khaleej Times. Around 100 passengers were also reportedly stranded at Kozhikode International Airport.

“Only 66 adult passengers and one child were allowed to board the flight on Monday. As per my understanding, the airline denied the passengers entry as they were carrying test reports from a laboratory that has been blacklisted by Dubai authorities,” Poduwal said. Those who were not able to travel were given free replacement tickets.

On Sunday night, Air India Express announced that health authorities in Dubai will no longer accept RT-PCR Covid-19 test results from four laboratories in India.

“The RT-PCR negative Covid-19 reports from four Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-approved laboratories – Suryam Lab in Jaipur, Microhealth Labs in Kerala, Dr P Bhasin Pathlabs LTD. in Delhi, and the Noble Diagnostic Centre in Delhi – will not be accepted anymore,” the airline said in its travel blog.

Passengers travelling to Dubai are advised to obtain pre-travel RT-PCR reports from Pure Health-approved laboratories, it added.

Poduval added: “One GoAir flight also departed to Dubai today but the airline took special permission from the UAE authorities to ensure smooth operations today. Starting tomorrow, this will not be the case.”

Neeraj Agarwal, consul for Press, information, and culture at the Consulate-General of India in Dubai, confirmed the report about the blacklisted labs. “However, passengers wishing to fly from India to Dubai can bring the test report from all other ICMR-approved facilities, except the four labs that have been listed by Dubai authorities,” he said.

A similar notice has also been issued by the UAE airline flydubai to its passengers flying in from India.

‘2,600 fake reports were issued in our name’

Kerala’s Micro Health Laboratories, one of the blacklisted labs, told Khaleej Times that it encountered the problem after 2,600 fake test results had been issued by scamsters under its name.

Dr Noushad CK, CEO of MicroHealth Laboratories, said: “A lab in Malappuram district issued these fake results on our letterhead and forged our stamps. The case was reported to the local police.”

With 27 labs across the world, Micro Health had partnered with the UAE’s official testing facility, Pure Health, in July. The company had opened franchises with over 40 labs across Kerala.

“The problem has now been resolved. We had shared an online verification system with airlines and we have also launched a QR code system to check the authenticity of the test results,” Dr Noushad said.

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22-hour surgery saves teacher’s life in UAE

Doctors in Abu Dhabi have performed a 22-hour cardiac surgery to save the life of a 25-year-old madrasa teacher, who has a rare genetic disorder called Marfan syndrome.

Pakistani expat Muhammed Arshad, a resident of Mussafah, had developed acute aortic dissection – a serious condition where there is a tear in the wall of the major artery carrying blood from the heart. But he was unaware about his medical condition.

It was in the second week of this month that Arshad felt a minor chest pain while at the madrasa, but he ignored it. A few days later, the pain became severe and he went to a hospital in Musaffah.

“A few tests were performed. I was told it was a cardiac problem. I was told to get advanced tests. I was in the hospital for a day but the next day, it became difficult to raise my left arm. I was soon transferred to Burjeel Hospital in the city,” said Arshad from his ICU bed.

Doctors at Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi diagnosed him with acute aortic dissection. A complex surgery was performed where the dissected aortic valve, root and arch were replaced with artificial tubes. He also underwent a coronary bypass surgery.

Dr Walid Shaker, who led the surgery along with consultant cardiac anesthetist Dr Sivan Pillay and clinical perfusionist Murali Krishna, said: “Arshad was brought to the hospital in the morning, and we started the surgery at around 8am on September 16. We finished it the next day by 6am. We are happy to have saved his life.”

Dr Shaker, head, cardiac surgery, said Arshad’s recovery is a “miracle”. “Normally, people who develop this medical condition die within a few hours if not rushed to a hospital. This is the first time in my career I have seen a patient surviving this condition after delaying the treatment for a week.”

It was found that Arshad has a genetic problem called the Marfan syndrome, which makes the walls of blood vessels fragile. It is more likely to have an impact on the heart by affecting the major blood-carrying artery.

“We are continuously monitoring him for improvements. It will take about three months for him to get back to normal life,” Dr Shaker added.

‘Don’t delay treatment’

Marking World Heart Day (September 29), Dr Pillay said that delay in coming to a hospital has proved fatal for many cardiac and oncology patients during this pandemic.

“Stress and anxiety are common among people and particularly among cardiac patients during these trying times. People should not be afraid of visiting a hospital if they are unwell. Delay in treatment may have detrimental consequences,” Dr Pillay said.

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Saudi busts terrorist cell trained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards

Saudi Arabia took down a terrorist cell this month that had received training from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, arresting 10 people and seizing weapons and explosives, the spokesman for the presidency of state security said on Monday.

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In a statement carried by Saudi state media, the spokesman said three of those arrested had been trained in Iran while the rest were “linked to the cell in various roles”. The weapons and explosives were confiscated at a house and a farm, he added.

Cell members “received military and field training, including on how to make explosives, inside Revolutionary Guards sites in Iran” for several weeks in late 2017, he said.

State Security Presidency: Terrorist Cell Thwarted whose Elements Received Military Training at Revolutionary Guard’s Sites in Iran.https://t.co/UhqpdEUX8l#SPAGOV pic.twitter.com/41Xy9UQAbh

The statement said weapons and explosives were confiscated at two locations, a house and a farm, in the Gulf Arab state, the world’s largest oil exporter and a key US ally.

Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran are locked in several proxy wars in the region, including in Yemen. Riyadh has blamed Iran for an unprecedented missile and drone attack on the Kingdom’s oil facilities last year, a charge Tehran denies.

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Covid-19 tests that give results in minutes to be rolled out

Some 120 million rapid diagnostic tests for coronavirus will be made available to low- and middle-income countries at a maximum of $5 (Dh18) each, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.

The wider availability of quick, reliable and inexpensive testing will help 133 countries to track infections and contain the spread, closing the gap with wealthy ones, it said.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the manufacturers Abbott and SD Biosensor had agreed with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to “make 120 million of these new, highly portable and easy-to-use rapid Covid-19 diagnostic tests available over a period of six months”.

He told a news conference in Geneva the tests were currently priced at a maximum of $5 each but were expected to become cheaper.

“This will enable the expansion of testing, particularly in hard-to-reach areas that do not have laboratory facilities or enough trained health workers to carry out tests,” Tedros said.

“This is a vital addition to the testing capacity and especially important in areas of high transmission.”

Catharina Boehme, chief executive officer of the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), a Geneva-based non-profit organisation in the project, said the deal was a “major milestone” as it was urgent to increase testing in poorer countries.

“It is our first line of defence, critical for countries to track, trace and isolate to stop the spread of the virus and to ensure that we are not flying blind,” she said.

“We now have two high-quality tests which are the first in a series that are being developed and assessed by WHO for emergency use listing,” she said.

The antigen tests – which don’t require a laboratory – provide reliable results in just 15 minutes rather than hours or days and will help expand testing, Boehme said, adding: “The tests are as simple to use as pregnancy tests.”

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria – another Geneva-based group – was providing an initial $50 million (Dh184 million) to the procurement fund and the first orders were expected to be placed this week, she said.

Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead on Covid-19, said that more tests were undergoing evaluation and would come online.

They would be particularly useful in remote settings and to investigate clusters quickly and bring them under control and in areas with widespread community transmission.

“This will be really, really helpful for communities and countries to be able to know where is the virus and who is infected with the virus,” she said.