As the end of Ramadan is upon us and Eid Al Fitr is right around the corner, it would normally be a time for families and close friends to come to together to celebrate, but due to the unprecedented circumstances COVID-19 has caused, the UAE government is urging residents not to hold gatherings to celebrate.

A spokesperson for the government expressed that in light of the “exceptional circumstances”, the responsibility to keep the wider public safe needed to be taken into account, despite the importance of socialising to mark the end of Holy Month.

In an official government statement, Dr. Amna Al Dahak Al Shamsi outlined the hypothetical ramifications that could occur if large family gatherings were to take place.

“Imagine a UAE family deciding to continue their yearly custom of gathering on the first day of Eid or visiting their grandfather’s house to spend their happy occasion with other relatives and meeting brothers, sisters, children and old elderly people with pre-existing conditions,” she explained. “Imagine that one of the family members is unaware that he or she contracted coronavirus from a contact and showed no symptoms.

“This person would congratulate his or her grandfather and exchange Eid greetings with the rest of the family members, spend the whole day with them without taking the necessary preventive measures, passing on the infection to the family.

“By the end of the day, each family will go back to their home, without knowing that they are infected now, and maybe one of them will decide to cap this with visiting friends and another goes back to work after Eid holidays.”

What may seem like a simple gathering between family and friends could have grave consequences, Dr. Al Shamsi warned. Gatherings could result in the rise of hundreds, potentially thousands of cases, throughout the UAE.

“Let’s give up some of our traditions this year, I am sure there will be many more Eids for us to get together again,” she explained. “We have no excuse to be careless or not to adhere to preventive measures.

“It is now every individual and every family’s responsibility. Any irresponsible behaviour should be abandoned.”

At present the UAE has 23,358 recorded cases of COVID-19 – 8,521 have recovered and there has been 220 deaths.

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