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Travelers to Abu Dhabi tracked during mandatory quarantine

The news from Etihad Airways comes as daily COVID-19 cases reach another peak in the United Arab Emirates, which has joined Jordan in using wristbands to track people entering the country.
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - AUGUST 10: A workers is seen at a testing center at the Dubai-Abu Dhabi border on August 10, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The UAE has recorded around 62,000 cases of covid-19, with 357 deaths, among its population of 9.6 million people. New cases have steadily declined since a spike at the beginning of July. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Abu Dhabi is now requiring people arriving by air to wear wristbands during their mandatory two-week quarantine. The measure is a sign authorities in the United Arab Emirates are tightening restrictions as daily COVID-19 cases reach all-time highs.

The latest regulations stipulate that travelers flying into Abu Dhabi International Airport self-isolate for 14 days. They must wear a “medically approved wristband” for the duration, an Etihad Airways spokesperson told Al-Monitor on Thursday. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad is the UAE’s flagship carrier. Immigration authorities will provide travelers with the wristband after they are cleared to enter the country, according to the spokesperson.

The wristband presumably tracks the movements of those wearing it to ensure they are abiding by the mandatory quarantine. Jordan has also used a tracking wristband to monitor people flying into the country.

In addition to the wristband, everyone flying into Abu Dhabi must be tested for the coronavirus upon arrival, except children under 12. Diplomats, children, people with chronic illness and the elderly are exempt from wearing the band, though these groups still must self-isolate, according to the airline.

All travelers entering the UAE, whether they are clearing customs or transiting, already had to provide a negative COVID-19 test to fly.

The UAE is currently facing an increased outbreak of COVID-19. There were 786 confirmed cases registered on Thursday, according to the Ministry of Health and Prevention, bringing the current number of infections to more than 10,451 in the Emirates. The daily rate of new cases is now close to the previous peak in late May. The total number of active cases remains below the high of around 17,000 in early June, according to Worldometer.

The UAE’s other major city Dubai remains open for tourists, though the requirement to test negative for the virus before flying remains in place. Emirati authorities are beginning to take other actions to curb the current outbreak. On Monday, the UAE government approved the use of an emergency COVID-19 vaccine for at-risk workers.

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