On May 14, Dubai officials took to Dubai TV to announce a plan for “life after COVID-19.” After two months of strict measures to contain COVID-19, the plan reveals how local authorities are seeing a post-coronavirus world. As the Gulf nation prepares to gradually lift its restrictions, authorities and citizens alike will see some distinct changes to their daily lives.
Phased lifting of lock-downs
Dubai will list COVID-19 measures gradually, in careful steps as authorities monitor for signs of new clusters or outbreaks. The country will implement and enforce strict standards regarding distancing, disinfection of public spaces and supervision. In the final stage public parks will reopen to mark a successful end to the lifting of COVID-19 measures.
Increasing focus on public health
Dubai’s healthcare sector will receive prioritization like never before, as infectious disease experts, researchers, and other healthcare professionals become a sought-after profession. A successful reopening of the country will require continuous testing to detect and quarantine any remaining infected people, whether they are symptomatic or not.
It is likely that Dubai will try to attract foreign talent to their healthcare sector as local hospitals, research centers and academic facilities will require well-educated professionals to compliment the existing staff. Dubai’s focus on intensive testing and early diagnosis, which have led to the lifting of existing measures, will proceed along with the gradual phase-out of restrictions
From containment to precautions
Dubai’s strategy of lock-downs combined with early diagnosis mean that the government feels confident enough to reopen its society after a difficult economic slump. The integrated healthcare system on the island nation has produced a centralized and coordinated response, something the country is eager to continue during the phasing out of lock-downs.
The Dubai municipality is highlighting the important work carried out by front-line workers and the need for lower-skilled workers in contributing to a safe and clean city. The municipality is investing heavily in spreading awareness of COVID-19 information as the globe learns more about the virus everyday.
In order to include all workers in its COVID-19 strategy, the Gulf state’s cleaning and waste management workers are receiving specialized training and benefit from temperature-screening devices and protective equipment to ensure their safety.
Our post-COVID-19 world
Dubai’s strategy reveals much of how governments could realize the gradual steps required to get back to normalcy. What that state of ‘normalcy’ consists of remains the biggest question. It is clear that few countries will be able to lift restrictions entirely after the virus has disappeared. Without a vaccine available, most governments will have to find the right time in their local epidemic to consider lifting restrictions.
Reopening society could come after a sufficient flattening of the curve, after a significant reduction in deaths, or when the healthcare system has sufficient intensive care beds ready to treat COVID-19 patients.
When normal life returns it is likely that going to the supermarket or using public transport will involve temperature-testing, showing your COVID-19 status in an app, or having to wear protective equipment like masks for a certain period.
A reemergence of the virus that occurred after Lebanon and some Chinese provinces lifted their restrictions should be the ultimate concern. One thing is certain until a universal vaccine is available, life will not be ‘normal’ for some time to come.