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More infectious COVID-19 variants account for most UAE cases, authority says

More infectious COVID-19 variants account for most UAE cases, authority says

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/File Photo

DUBAI: New coronavirus infections in the United Arab Emirates are mostly from more infectious variants leading to an increase in the number of virus-linked deaths, a federal authority has said.

The Gulf Arab state, with a population of about 9 million, has had one of the world's fastest vaccination campaigns.

However, cases have risen over the past month to more than 2,000 new infections a day, though that is still below a peak in February.

On Saturday (Jun 26), the UAE recorded 10 deaths, its highest single daily toll since March, according to the Reuters COVID-19 tracker.

READ: Delta COVID-19 variant threatens new pandemic challenge

The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) said the increase in deaths was due to the spread of the Beta, Delta and Alpha variants.

The Beta variant, first detected in South Africa, is the most dominant variant in the UAE, accounting for 39.2 per cent of cases, it said.

Delta, first detected in India, accounts for 33.9 per cent of infections. Alpha, first detected in Britain, accounts for 11.3 per cent, it said on Twitter late on Sunday.

READ: India says new 'Delta plus' COVID-19 variant is a concern

READ: 'Just give us the vaccines': WHO pleads, as poor countries go wanting

The World Health Organisation (WHO) this month warned that Delta was becoming the globally dominant variant of the disease with its increased transmissibility.

People who have visited South Africa or India in the past 14 days are banned from entering the UAE, though some, such as citizens and diplomats, are exempt.

The NCEMA urged the public to get vaccinated, saying that 92 per cent of those admitted to intensive care had not been inoculated, while 94 per cent of those who had died had not been vaccinated.

Many in the UAE have been inoculated with the Sinopharm vaccine from China, while the Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines are also offered to citizens and residents.

NCEMA said 91.8 per cent of those eligible had been vaccinated, representing 71 per cent of the population.

A Chinese disease control research last week said that antibodies triggered by two Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines were less effective against the Delta variant compared with other shots but still offered protection.

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Source: Reuters/ga

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