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Dubai rolls out COVID-19 vaccines to public transport workers

Dubai has begun the mass vaccination of public transport workers, with the Gulf emirate aiming to remain open to international tourism despite a surge in cases. The United Arab Emirates, which includes Dubai and six other emirates and has a population of nearly 10 million, has administered 4.4 million doses — one of the best vaccination rates per capita in the world, and second to Israel.

The UAE has recorded 930 deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began, after an additional nine deaths were reported in the previous 24 hours. At a center of Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) on Monday, dozens of drivers and other employees — many from India or Pakistan — formed long lines for an AstraZeneca jab. “We are the people most exposed to proximity to others because of work,” taxi driver Salah Mohammed Ossman said. “I need to protect myself.” RTA has already vaccinated some 20,000 employees, according to Nada Jassem, head of risk management and safety at RTA, adding the goal of the campaign was to “vaccinate all transport workers in Dubai as well as their families.”

Hossam Al-Hadad, who works for RTA’s in customer service, said he had long been waiting for the vaccination, citing the “fear” of all his colleagues “of being infected.” The vaccination campaign uses several vaccines including Pfizer-BioNtech, Sinopharm and AstraZeneca. The UAE has imposed further restrictions on economic and social activities over the last week to further curb the spread of the coronavirus and has increased fines and penalties for violators. Elsewhere in the Gulf, Kuwait reported 996 new cases of COVID-19 and three deaths.

Oman’s health ministry confirmed 316 new cases and one additional death.

In Bahrain, three new deaths were confirmed and 719 new cases.

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