UAE seeks to allay Danish concerns over Covid-19 tests

The United Arab Emirates said late on Friday that it was in contact with Danish authorities to "clarify the details" of the concerns over coronavirus testing that prompted them to suspend flights.

UAE seeks to allay Danish concerns over Covid-19 tests
Illustration photo: A lab worker handles a biological sample at a Covid-19 testing centre in Dubai: KARIM SAHIB / AFP

Danish Transport Minister Benny Engelbrecht announced earlier on Friday that all commercial air traffic from the UAE would be suspended for five days over concerns that its  pre-flight Covid-19 tests were not rigorous enough.

“Communication is currently underway with the Danish authorities to clarify the details and cases behind the decision in order to guarantee the safety and security of all travellers,” the UAE foreign ministry said.

All air passengers arriving in Denmark need to show a negative coronavirus test from the previous 24 hours, but Engelbrecht said Danish authorities want to be sure there were no botched screenings or tests that had been bought in Dubai– one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE.

He said the five-day suspension would give officials time “to ensure that the required negative test is a true screening that has been carried out correctly”.

The UAE foreign ministry insisted that all accredited testing centres were “regularly subject to strict quality checks”.

“Severe penalties are imposed for non-compliance with international standards to ensure the highest level of quality in testing,” it said.

READ ALSO: These are Denmark's entry rules for negative Covid-19 tests

While other tourist destinations are applying tight restrictions to control the pandemic, Dubai has kept its doors open since reopening them in July, despite a sharp spike in cases.

But the glitzy emirate clamped down on its entertainment scene this week. It also suspended non-essential surgery in hospitals after a surge in Covid-19 infections since the New Year.

It said that more than 200 cases of non-compliance with coronavirus guidelines had been recorded and around 20 establishments closed in the past three weeks, adding: “All entertainment permits issued will be on hold effective immediately.”

Authorities in Dubai issued more stringent health guidelines on Friday after the UAE registered a daily record of 3,552 cases, a new high for the 11th consecutive day.

Restaurants and cafes have been instructed to increase the spacing between tables from two metres to three, and the number of people allowed at each table has been reduced from 10 to seven for restaurants and four in cafes.

Authorities have also limited the number of people allowed to attend social gatherings, including weddings, from 200 to “first-degree relatives totalling a maximum of 10 people”.

While mask-wearing and social distancing have been in force, restaurants, hotels and mega-malls have remained open in Dubai — whose economy heavily relies on tourism.

According to Emirati health officials, the UAE has already inoculated more than two million of its approximately 10 million population.

It has recorded more than 270,000 Covid-19 cases, 776 of them fatal.


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?

The number of new Covid-19 infections fell on Saturday for the second day in a row, following a three-day plateau at the start of last week. Has the omicron wave peaked?

IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?
Graffiti in the Copenhagen hippy enclave of Christiania complaining of Omicron's impact on Christmas. Photo: Philip Davali/Scanpix

How many cases, hospitalisations and deaths are there in Denmark? 

Denmark registered 12,588 new cases in the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, down from the 18,261 registered on in the day leading up to Friday at 2pm, which was itself a decline from the record 28,283 cases recorded on Wednesday. 

The cases were identified by a total of 174,517 PCR tests, bringing the positive percentage to 7.21 percent, down from the sky high rates of close to 12 percent seen in the first few days of January. 

The number of cases over the past seven days is lower than the week before in almost every municipality in Denmark, with only Vallensbæk, Aarhus, Holseterbro, Skanderborg, Hjørring, Vordingborg,  Ringkøbing, Kolding, Assens, Horsens, Thisted, and Langeland reporting rises. 

Hospitalisations have also started to fall, with some 730 patients being treated for Covid-10 on Saturday, down from 755 on Friday. On Tuesday, 794 were being treated for Covid-19 in Danish hospitals, the highest number since the peak of the 2020-21 winter wave.

The only marker which has not yet started to fall is the number of deaths, which tends to trail infections and hospitalisations. 

In the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, Denmark registered 28 deaths with Covid-19, the highest daily number recorded since 20 January 2021, when 29 people died with Covid-19 (although Denmark’s deadliest day was the 19 January 2021, when 39 people died). 

How does Denmark compare to other countries in Europe? 

Over the last seven days, Denmark has had the highest Covid-19 case rate of any country in Europe bar Ireland. The number of new infections in the country has climbed steadily since the start of December, apart from a brief fall over Christmas. 

So does this mean the omicron wave has peaked? 

Maybe, although experts are not sure. 

“Of course, you can hope for that, but I’m not sure that is the case,” said Christian Wejse, head of the Department for Infectious Diseases at Aarhus University Hospital. “I think it is too early to conclude that the epidemic has peaked.”

He said that patients with the Omicron variant were being discharged more rapidly on average than had been the case with those who had the more dangerous Delta variant. 

“Many admissions are relatively short-lived, thankfully. This is because many do not become that il, and are largely hospitalized because they are suffering with something else. And if they are stable and do not need oxygen, then they are quickly discharged again.” 

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said during a visit to an event held by the Social Liberal party that the latest numbers made her even more optimistic about the coming month. 

“We have lower infection numbers and the number of hospitalisations is also plateauing,” she said. “I think we’re going to get through this winter pretty well, even if it will be a difficult time for a lot of people, and we are beginning to see the spring ahead of us, so I’m actually very optimistic.” 

She said that she had been encouraged by the fact that Omicron was a “visibly less dangerous variant if it is not allowed to explode.”