Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
Jamil Khan, Senior Reporter
The UAE government has already initiated sterilisation procedures throughout the country with clear instructions for the general public to stay at home. The sterilisation drive has brought normal life in the nation to a complete standstill as roads and streets wore a deserted look.
Talking to Gulf Today, a number of Pakistani community members shared their experience and thoughts about ‘stay home’ and also urged others to follow the government instructions.
“For the last over one week, a majority of the workforce in UAE have been working from their homes to avoid catching the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The experience of doing office work from home seems exciting but as time passed by we knew the working environment in offices had no alternative, with all the necessary staff around, seeking guidance from the seniors and more importantly the company of like-minded people around you. But we are lucky to carry out our office responsibilities without any hindrance,” said Naseer Sheikh, an expatriate working in a Dubai-based consultancy firm.
Similarly, a sales agent in a local insurance company said that “there is no alternative to an office but we have to comply with local government directions especially when we are talking COVID-19 as the whole world is facing a similar situation. Usually we make dozens of calls to our clients daily besides scheduling meetings in and out of our office but now we are only making calls to fulfil our responsibilities and find people who need our help in this critical situation,” he said.
Subhani Ahmad, a resident of Sharjah, said that these days under ‘stay home’ he is not only enjoying the free time but devoting his whole energy to social media to share ‘informative’ posts about his family and friends spread across different countries. “In the time of social media, sharing information is easy but there is always a fear of ‘promoting fake news’ as it is not only harmful but penalised in many countries like ours. So we are conscious of it and ask our friends especially in the UAE to be sensible while using social media chiefly when we are in ‘stay home’ mode and there is nothing to do except this,” he said.
Touqeer, a young community member, shared that these days he has been spending a lot of time on the internet to learn something new, like Arabic as he was looking for some free time for a long time.
He has been working as a sales representative in a local company and faces difficulty communicating with Arab nationals. “Whenever I passed through such a situation, I promised myself to find a tutor and learn the language but failed, now these days while staying at home we are fortunate to find a good hobby to spend our time in the right direction,” he added.
Earlier, community members were asked to avoid gatherings as the Pakistani missions in the UAE have taken a number of steps to provide maximum relief, especially to those visiting the Consulate in Dubai and the Embasy in Abu Dhabi for their various consular services.
The Pakistan Consulate in Dubai and Northern Emirates has been extending expired passports against Dhs25 fee for one year as sources pointed out that it was not mandatory. “The decision was taken by the Government of Pakistan to relieve the community and avoid gatherings as every day hundreds of people visit the consulate to renew their passports and other official documents,” an official from the press section who pleaded anonymity shared with Gulf Today.
The staff in the consulate has been regularly coming and offering their duties to provide a wide range of consular services including passport renewal, renewal of conmputerised identity cards, attestation of various documents and others.
The officials also mentioned that the computerised national identity cards (CNIC) of those Pakistanis expiring in the next 3 months have been made valid till June and the message has already been spread among the community.
The consulate has also made a number of steps to avoid visitors to congregate in the vicinity of the mission. “A number of consuls have been deputed to guide people for their required sections as soon as they enter the mission while a number of dispensers (hand sanitisers) are installed to stop the virus and maintain healthy and secure habits,” the official said.
The health and safety of the DIFC community remains the utmost priority. The Centre will continue to enforce strict pre-cautionary measure as per Dubai and UAE Government guidelines to minimize the spread of COVID-19, including directives on hygiene, sanitisation, and social distancing.
In a statement, the Ministry affirmed its aim to expand the scope of testing nationwide to facilitate the early detection of coronavirus cases and carry out the necessary treatment.
The infected individuals are from various nationalities, are in a stable condition, and receiving the necessary care, Ministry added. MoHAP also announced 3 deaths due to COVID-19 complications, bringing the total number of deaths in the country to 1,529.
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