DUBAI: Dubai's health authority on Wednesday (Jan 20) ordered hospitals to cancel non-essential surgery for the next month after a surge in coronavirus cases in the Middle East's tourism and business hub.
It said in a circular published on its website that the decision, which takes effect on Thursday and could be extended in a month's time, aimed to ensure preparedness of health facilities to manage COVID-19 cases.
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 which 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 per cent 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.