Virus: Dubai mass vaccinates public transport workers

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Dubai is conducting a vast coronavirus vaccination campaign this week among its thousands of public transport employees, with the Gulf emirate wishing to remain open to international tourism despite a recent increase in contamination.

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In a center of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), dozens of drivers and other employees, the vast majority of Indian or Pakistani immigrants, form long lines ordered to receive an injection of AstraZeneca vaccine.

“We are the people most exposed to proximity to others because of work. I need to protect myself more, ”taxi driver Salah Mohammed Ossman told AFP.

Dubai, one of the seven principalities that make up the wealthy United Arab Emirates, recently made a name for itself by opening its doors widely to international visitors as many countries tightened restrictions on the spread of variants.

The number of contaminations has rebounded sharply in the Emirates since January when the country embarked on an all-out vaccination campaign using several vaccines including Pfizer-BioNtech, Sinopharm or AstraZeneca.

“In this center, our goal is to vaccinate around 7,000 people in one week,” Nada Jassem, head of risk management and security at RTA, told AFP.

According to her, this is the third and final phase of a campaign launched at the end of December and which first targeted priority employees, elderly or affected by certain diseases.

RTA has already vaccinated some 20,000 employees, said Nada Jassem, adding that the goal of the campaign is to “vaccinate all transport workers in the emirate of Dubai as well as their families.”

According to doctor Ali Hamadi present on site, Dubai intends to vaccinate employees in vital sectors: “We are the first to benefit from it and other vital sectors will also be concerned, such as the education sector or the oil and gas sectors. “.

Hossam Al-Hadad, an employee of RTA’s customer service, had been waiting for this vaccination for a long time, citing the “fear” of all his colleagues “of being infected”.

“So getting vaccinated is necessary,” he told AFP.

With more than 4.4 million doses administered in the Emirates, which has a population of nearly 10 million, the country has one of the best vaccination rates in the world after Israel.

But Dubai has recently had to tighten the screws on a rise in infections.

The Emirates have recorded more than 329,000 cases since the start of the pandemic, including 930 deaths.

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