After opening itself to New Year revelers, Dubai is now being blamed by several countries for spreading the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) abroad.
Meanwhile, the Dubai Media Office said the sheikhdom is doing all it can to handle the Covid-19 pandemic.
“After a year of managing the pandemic, we can confidently say the current situation is under control and we have our plans to surge any capacity in the health care system should a need rise,” it said.
Dubai, known for its long-haul carrier Emirates, the world’s tallest building and its beaches and bars, in July became one of the first travel destinations to describe itself as open for business.
As tourism restarted, daily reported coronavirus case numbers slowly grew but mostly remained stable through the fall.
But then came New Year’s Eve — a major draw for travelers from countries otherwise shut down over the virus who partied without face banks in bars and yachts. For the last 17 days, the United Arab Emirates as a whole has reported record daily Covid-19 case numbers as lines at Dubai testing facilities grow.
In Israel, more than 900 travelers returning from Dubai have been infected with the coronavirus, according to the military, which conducts contact tracing. The returnees created a chain of infections numbering more than 4,000 people, the Israeli military told a media outlet.
In the United Kingdom, tabloids have splashed shots of bikini-clad British influencers partying in Dubai while the country struggled through lockdowns trying to control the virus. Britain in mid-January closed a travel corridor to Dubai that had allowed travelers to skip quarantine over what was described as a significant acceleration in the number of imported cases from the UAE.
Meanwhile, mutated strains of the coronavirus have been linked back to Dubai.
Denmark already discovered one traveler coming from Dubai who tested positive for the South African variant, the first such discovery there.
In the Philippines, a Filipino who went on a business trip to Dubai on Dec. 27 was tested positive for the new Covid-19 strain, and has infected several more. SOVEREIGNPH