NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
New medical test policy for expatriate workers
ABU DHABI — Oct. 17: The government will soon devise a new medical examination policy for expatriate labour force in the country to avert import of communicable diseases into the UAE, a senior health official has revealed.
The system, which is expected to be enforced before the end of current year and will be applicable to new comers and non-national residents, will be electronically linked with the labour card, said Dr Ali Shakar, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Health.
"The new medical examination policy targets developing new efficient and unified check-up procedures in the country that will guarantee expatriates residents were free from certain infectious diseases while ensuring their comfort", Dr Shakar exclusively told Khaleej Times yesterday.
At present, expatriates are examined for contagious ailments under the federal law No 27 of 1981 on communicable disease prevention and control.
HIV/Aids, pulmonary tuberculosis, leprosy and viral hepatitis B (for certain categories) are the four diseases for which an expatriate is deported if proved infected.
As per the law, expatriates should be examined twice for these diseases to ascertain they were free of them.
First examination is conducted upon entry while the second test is required on renewal of residence visa every one to three year.
Expatriates are also screened for other diseases like typhoid and intestinal parasites, depending on the type of jobs expatriate occupy. According to the law, testing positive for these aliments does not require deportation of this category.
On the features of the new testing system, Dr Shakar said his ministry had prepared a comprehensive project on the medical check-ups required for expatriate labour force that would keep the country free from contagious diseases and ensure the safety of expatriates.
"The new developed system implies easier and simpler procedures compared to the enforced measures. It will be electronically linked with the labour card", he said.
The official underlined that negotiations were underway with the Ministry of Labour to ensure efficiency of the project. "We want to curb import of infectious diseases and provide better services for expatriate residents. We want to treat them as customers that deserve the best", said Dr Shakar.
He said no extra charges will be levied under the new policy and that examinations will include various diseases besides infectious ailments.
"We will not introduce changes on the fees charged for the medical tests, which will include communicable diseases and other necessary general examinations".
Visa and residency fees may be slashed
ABU DHABI — Oct. 17: The Ministry of Interior is examining the possibility of slashing the fees charged for issuing visa and residence permit, Brigadier Mohammed Salem bin Awiadha Al Khaeeli, director General of Naturalisation and residency Directorate at the Interior Ministry has said.
Naturalization and Residency departments in the emirates have always been providing advanced services to the convenience of the applicants and these are not meant for making profits, he told Khaleej Times, referring to the ministerial policy guidelines.
''Upgrading and improving the services and facilitating them to the applicants does not necessarily mean jacking up the fees on the issued visas and other transactions,'' he said.
Brigadier Al Khaeeli affirmed that the Ministry of Interior would not increase the fees but work to reduce them.
Bus commuters urged to give exact change
DUBAI — Oct. 17: An official of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has urged the users of the public transport buses to carry enough coins so that they can pay exact change for buying their ticket.
The request came in response to a report published by Khaleej Times in late September where a driver delayed the bus service because he did not have 50-fils change.
A heated argument followed between the driver and passengers after the bus was delayed by 30 minutes.
Abdul Aziz Malik, Acting Director of Public Buses Department at RTA's Public Transport Agency, said they had put the driver in training after reprimanding him.
"The department has investigated the incident and after hearing the statements of various parties, it was concluded that the incident happened due to lack of adequate coins," Malik said.
The RTA official said "public bus passengers should carry coins equivalent to the value of their ticket so as to avoid delays." He also wanted passengers to use the RTA's partnership cards instead of cash.
Rosemary Akinguyite, the passenger who was involved in the September 23 bus held-up, said that she was grateful for the action taken by the RTA.
Bird flu guide for travellers launched
Abu Dhabi: Oct. 17: The Secretariat of the National Committee for Emergency Response to Bird Flu has launched a mini guide for travellers.
The guide contains advice in Arabic, English, German, French and Hindi and is part of the awareness campaign entitled 'Better Safe than Sorry' which was launched in 2005.
The guide is being distributed not only at the country's airports but also at land and sea entry points. It targets those departing or arriving from affected areas around the world, the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) announced yesterday.
It explains what the disease is, its causes and how it started. Moreover, the guide instructs travellers to refrain from bringing any live birds, poultry, meat, eggs or feathers into the UAE. It recommends avoiding visiting any poultry farms soon after their return to the UAE.
"The guide also highlights the emergency hotline in case of any emergency (8009990), which is constantly receiving inquiries from the general public," EAD said in a statement.
Dubai Municipality, one of the members of the committee, has set up an avian influenza operations room in its Veterinary Section. The municipality also received, stored and distributed specific amounts of the necessary safety and hygienic equipment to the rest of the committee members, in cooperation with Dubai's Department of Health and Medical Services.
The EAD, in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and Water and the Emirates Bird Records Committee has continued to monitor avian influenza by implementing its nation-wide wild birds monitoring surveys on islands and other key areas.
These surveys began in October 2005. Last month, 31,230 birds of 107 species were monitored and recorded in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the Northern Emirates from the selected monitoring sites.
Police arrest squatters in abandoned post office
Dubai: Oct. 17: Police have arrested five men who were living in an abandoned post office building in Satwa, a senior police official said yesterday.
Brigadier Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, Director of Dubai Police's Criminal Investigation Department (CID), said three of the five Asian men have violated residency laws, while two of them work in a company.
Gulf News reported on October 10 that men were living in the abandoned post office building.
Brigadier Al Mazeina said police would call the companies sponsoring the men to verify if they still worked for them. The CID has called on the authorities to whom the building belongs to demolish it if it is not suitable for use. The building must not be left to be used by others.
Brigadier Al Mazeina said the department will follow up with police patrols in that area to catch any other similar cases.
He warned against leaving abandoned buildings without demolishing them, as the building can be exploited by squatters or addicts and they might become places to commit immoral activities.
Brigadier Al Mazeina said that earlier teams had arrested some men from other areas. These men had befriended the Asians and they would indulge in immoral activities. Some illegal labourers gather in these abandoned buildings to drink.
Man critical after being hit by crane on trailer
Dubai: Oct. 17: A man has been admitted to hospital in critical condition after being involved in a freak accident on Sunday.
The accident occurred when a crane being transported on a trailer hit the Egyptian man A.A. 36, who was walking on the hard shoulder of a road in Jebel Ali Industrial Area 1. A police source said the Indian driver identified as M.S. has been arrested.
The driver did not realise he had hit the man and continued driving until he was stopped by some people who told him about the accident.
Police said the crane was not properly loaded on the trailer and part of it was jutting out, hitting the victim. The source said A.A. sustained serious head injuries.
Duty free thief jailed
Dubai - Oct. 17: An aircraft engineer has been jailed for three months after being caught stealing duty free items from planes at Dubai airport. The 37-year-old Filipino was caught on April 20 with a watch with the Emirates logo and some foreign currency. A police search of his house found two more watches, Emirates playing cards and a large amount of foreign currency. He will be deported after serving his sentence.