PHL consul advises Filipinos in UAE to avail of gov’t’s free vaccines vs COVID-19

Says UAE has already vaccinated almost 60 percent of its population

(Eagle News) —  The Philippine consul general in Dubai has advised Filipinos in the United Arab Emirates to avail of the free vaccines being offered by the government there so they can be protected from COVID-19.

Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes said that the UAE has already vaccinated more than 50 percent of the population.   In fact, 5.8 million of the 10 million population there have already received their doses as of Feb. 25, 2021.

And it’s all for free.  The UAE government offers four vaccines to the residents there. The first vaccine there was Sinopharm, followed by Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, and Russian’s Sputnik V.

In an interview with ASEAN in Focus on Friday, Feb. 26, Cortes explained Dubai’s very aggressive anti-COVID-19 programs, including free mass vaccination, testing and strict protocols on quarantine, especially for those arriving in UAE.

“They don’t want to go back to the lockdown that they had last year,” he said which affected the UAE economy which is very dependent on tourism.

UAE had a slight spike in COVID-19 cases in January just before the vaccine roll-out.  This led to restrictions in many businesses, including restaurants and entertainment-related sector.

-UAE’s impressive vaccine roll-out cited-

The Philippine consul said that the UAE has a very impressive vaccination program.  Those who want to avail of the vaccines only need to sign up and go to the health centers to get the jabs.

“Sana po magpa-vaccine na po tayo.  Libre po.  All you need to do is to sign-up,” he said.

Cortes said he and his family — his wife and two older boys — also had the vaccines.  They got their first dose on Jan. 19, and the second dose only this Feb. 9.

Lahat kami nagpa-vaccine na,” he said.  He only felt a slight discomfort in his arm where he got the shot.

But Cortes said that it is important to remain vigilant and continue to practice the health protocols of frequent hand washing, sanitizing, wearing of face masks, and social distancing even if you have already been vaccinated.

-Giving hope to Filipinos in UAE-

Before the interview ended, “ASEAN in Focus” anchor Alma Angeles asked the Philippine consul, who is known for his hobby of belting out tunes, for a short song to “give hope” to fellow Filipinos — his kababayans in UAE.

To this request, although surprised at first, Cortes gamely took the challenge and sang a short tune from Basil Valdez’ popular hit “You.”

He again appealed to Filipinos in the UAE to have the vaccines.

Sana magpa-vaccine na po tayo.  let’s all be responsible. Let’s play our role in trying to decrease the number of COVID-19 cases,” the consul said.

The UAE, as of the latest data, has less COVID-19 cases than the Philippines. According to the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) virus dashboard, UAE has 381,682 total confirmed COVID-19 cases, with only 1,182 listed COVID-19 related deaths (Feb. 26, 2021 data).

The Philippines, on the other hand, has 571,327 COVID-19 cases, with 12,247 deaths.

(Eagle News Service)