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Covid-19: Dubai suspends non-essential surgery, entertainment after surge in cases

The increase in infections in the UAE came after the emirate relaxed its entry requirements to boost tourism and save its economy
Dubai plans to vaccinate at least 50 per cent of its population using China's SinoPharm vaccine (AFP)

Dubai has suspended all non-essential surgery for a month and live entertainment in hotels and restaurants indefinitely after a surge in coronavirus cases. 

The new rules will come into effect at midnight on Thursday and have been introduced to help prepare medical facilities to manage Covid-19 patients, according to Dubai's health department. 

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Dubai's tourism department also said live entertainment in hotels and restaurants would be suspended after reports of an increase in violations of coronavirus rules. 

The United Arab Emirates does not give a breakdown of infections in each emirate, but infection levels have hit a record level only weeks after it began vaccine trials.

Daily infections in the UAE reached 3,529 on Thursday, the health ministry said, the highest in the Gulf Arab region, where daily tallies in each of the other five states have fallen below 500.

Dubai, which has been hit harder economically than Abu Dhabi, made its entry requirements easier to boost tourism and has advertised itself as the ideal pandemic vacation destination. 

Britain, however, recently removed the UAE from its travel corridor after seeing a rise in infections. 

Last month, the UAE said it would offer free Covid-19 vaccines to all citizens and residents living in the territory. 

It aims to inoculate 50 percent of its population by the end of the year. It approved China's Sinopharm vaccine in September, and on Thursday it approved Russia's Sputnik V vaccine for emergency use.

Unlike other countries, the UAE has not prioritised or restricted vaccinations according to age or vulnerability. It plans to innoculate its one million citizens and eight million foreign residents. 

In April last year, Dubai introduced one of the strictest lockdowns in the world to control the coronavirus.  

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