FILE PHOTO: Prime Minister and Vice-President of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum talks to staff before he receives the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine candidate, in Dubai
DUBAI (Reuters) – The ruler of Dubai has replaced the head of the emirate’s health authority without explanation, in the midst of an immunisation drive and a spike in COVID-19 infections in the United Arab Emirates.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum appointed Awad Saghir al-Ketbi as the new director general of the Dubai Health Authority, replacing Humaid al-Qutami, according to a statement issued on Sunday.
No reason for the change was given. The Dubai Media Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The number of daily coronavirus cases in the UAE, a federation of seven emirates, has tripled in the past month. On Monday authorities registered 3,579 new infections and nine deaths. They do not provide a breakdown per emirate.
The country has largely removed coronavirus restrictions with the exception of face masks in public and social distancing.
But Dubai, the region’s business and tourism hub, has seen an influx of visitors during its peak winter season and in the past week reimposed some measures, including banning live entertainment and further restricting the number of people allowed to gather at social events and restaurants.
The UAE has ramped up its immunisation campaign with the aim of vaccinating more than 50% of its roughly 9 million population before the end of March.
(Reporting by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)