Abu Dhabi’s COVID app removes vaccine option for visitors
June 27, 2021 – 11:27 AM
Archive photo used for representation purposes only.
DUBAI: Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, has removed the ability for visitors to request COVID-19 vaccines from a dedicated mobile app, although a hotline run by Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) said last week that tourists were eligible.
SEHA, which operates the emirate’s health infrastructure, said visitors with Abu Dhabi-issued visas and passport holders eligible for tourist visas on entry can book free vaccines, and its app had posted a “visitor” function.
Vaccinations were previously restricted to citizens of the United Arab Emirates and holders of a residence visa.
The Abu Dhabi media office, which had not responded to a request for Reuters comment on tourist eligibility, released a statement Thursday saying vaccines are available for people with expired residence visas or an expired entry visa, “which does not include holders of a tourist or visit visa.”
He did not respond to requests for clarification of the matter.
Job losses and travel restrictions during the pandemic mean that some people’s residence visas expired or were canceled when they were made redundant.
The United Arab Emirates, which has led one of the fastest vaccination campaigns in the world, includes seven emirates that have set some of their own policies on COVID-19 and vaccines.
There is no indication that Dubai, the most populous emirate and a hub for business and tourism, has opened up vaccines to visitors.
Health officials in the United Arab Emirates said this month that nearly 85% of the eligible population had received at least one dose of the vaccine, but did not say how many received two doses.
Coronavirus infections have increased over the past month in the United Arab Emirates, which doesn’t give a breakdown for every emirate. On Saturday, it recorded 2,282 new infections to bring its total to 624,814 cases and 1,792 deaths.
Abu Dhabi still has entry restrictions, including a home quarantine and interval PCR testing after arrival. People who drive from other emirates are tested to show they are not infected.