All UAE residency visas will remain valid to the end of the year, offering a boost to those left stranded overseas due to global lockdowns prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Brig Khamis Al Kaabi, of the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, confirmed the decision during the country’s regular media briefing on Monday.
Many UAE residents who were out of the country when flights across the world were grounded to stem the spread of Covid-19 remain unable to return, including in India where the world’s biggest lockdown has been extended.
The UAE also announced 398 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, bringing the country’s total number to 4,521, and confirmed three more deaths. Twenty-five people have died of coronavirus since the UAE announced its first four cases in late January.
“A set of decisions have been taken to relieve UAE residents from the effects of the international measures taken to combat the coronavirus,” said Brig Al Kaabi.
“Expats who have their visa expiring after March 1, 2020, will have their visa valid till the end of December this year whether they are inside or outside the country.”
The official added that UAE authorities are working to ensure that expatriates who wish to return to their countries of origin are able to do so.
“We have received requests from residents and visitors who are inside the country to join their families in their homeland under the current circumstances and we are working to coordinate these requests,” he said.
It was announced that a further 172 people had recovered from the virus, bringing the country’s total to 852.
Dr Farida Al Hosani, spokeswoman for the UAE health sector, said another 23,383 tests for the virus had been carried out across the country.
More than 600,000 tests have now been conducted nationwide since the virus emerged.
Dr Al Hosani called on residents to ignore social media speculation surrounding when cases of Covid-19 may peak in the country.
“We can assure you it is not possible to confirm a specific date to reach the peak,” she said.
She praised efforts to ramp up testing through the opening of 13 drive-through centres in the country and a drive announced by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, to offer home testing to people with disabilities.
Dr Al Hosani reiterated her belief that social distancing practices will prove successful in slowing the spread of the virus.
“Many studies have proven that the social practices aimed at limiting the spread of the virus such as social distancing, physical spacing and limiting congregations significantly contribute to a delay in the spread of the virus, reduction in the number of cases and consequently cause a halt in the intense rise of cases and limit them over a short period of time,” she said.
This article originally appeared on thenational.ae