United Arab Emirates News

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COVID-19: A 30% salary cut is now in the past only for some businesses in UAE

Business|: Dubai: Have you got back the 30 per cent? In the next few days, more of UAE’s workforce will start seeing their full September salaries get credited into bank accounts as employers roll back the wage cuts they implemented after COVID-19 struck. But the reinstating of full salaries continues to be a highly selective process. Staff in sectors such as retail (excluding most online businesses, of course) are yet to get their full paychecks back – and sources say it’s unlikely they will see it until 2021 comes around. Workforces in aviation and hospitality, real estate and construction, advertising and media too are still some distance away from the comfort of being able to withdraw their full entitlements. See More Dubai’s five-year Retirement Visa: It just got easier to apply The easiest way to book a COVID-19 test in the UAE UAE: Can my employer enforce a non-compete clause against me? UAE: How to report workplace harassment? Multiple industry sources say those businesses that are reinstating full salaries would have completed the extremely difficult task of cutting down their staff size. “In most sectors, business activity is far from reaching pre-COVID-19 levels,” said the HR manager at a leading retail group. “So, bringing down the employee numbers is the only way to manage costs - and most of the cuts will continue to happen in the mid- and senior management levels. “Salary reinstatements will not happen until businesses feel they have turned the corner – the question is when will that corner be reached?” Not done yet Most would have thought that whatever pruning of workforces should already have taken place since March, when organisations had their first look at the devastation the COVID-19 brought about. And use the summer months to further cut back and in some way brings costs down. That’s not the way it’s turning out to be, and for key sectors, some difficult decisions lie ahead of them. “We expect to see more changes in the banking sector as we move from traditional banking towards the digital age,” said Vijay Gandhi, Regional Director at Korn Ferry Digital, the consultancy. This has resulted in a “need for talent that is AI-driven to improve the overall processes from risk, credit, operations and compliance roles and the impact of reduced branches. “Most companies affected with the crisis have “de-layered” the management a few months ago to start the next quarter with a low cost base.” Organisations are beginning to reverse the salary cuts - we are seeing it happen in phases between October and January depending on the industry Vijay Gandhi of Korn Ferry Digital A gradual return For a majority of UAE businesses and their employees, a full salary reinstatement will still take months. “We expect to see this trend continuing throughout the remainder of this year,” said Luke Tapp, Partner – Employment at the law firm Pinsent Masons Middle East. “It does ultimately depend on the sector, as some are more robust in terms of the market and economic opportunities, as well as the ability to deliver services and goods in a remote way. “For example, the professional services (accounting, law, etc.) and financial services seem to be responding faster and in a more positive way.” In some sectors, the challenge now is encouraging good talent to consider new opportunities because those individuals are not willing to take a risk on a new role while there remains volatility within the global and regional economy Luke Tapp at Pinsent Masons Most vulnerable Middle level managers cutting across industries will spend the next few weeks in quite a bit of distress. Employers started out with lowering their headcounts at the lower end in the initial weeks of the pandemic. But it’s now mid- and senior-level that are likely to be most threatened. Some have responded by taking voluntary pay cuts rather than end up on the chopping block. Healthcare returns to some normalcy The sector that is out there battling the pandemic went through its own share of critical times. Healthcare also saw salary and compensation cuts across the board during the peak months of the pandemic – but once hospitals and clinics started to operate at full capacity, salaries are being handed out in full. But things are not running smooth as yet. “There are some hospital chains where many doctors are having trouble on salary payments,” said the CEO of a mid-level clinic network. “Delays of a month or two are common – but thankfully, the salaries when they do come are in full.” Retail is worst hit Leading retail groups say it will be some time before their employers can say the same. Many worry that the “30% cut” will become a permanent state. Categories such as jewellery, apparel and automotive have gone through extensive workforce reductions – and more await. “When few are willing to buy, where’s the justification to retain the same number of stores?” queries the CEO of one retail group. “And when there are fewer stores, there definitely won’t be the need for the same number of staff. The big decisions in retail are still pending.” For some, it’s all good New hiring is happening, but even then with definite changes. According to Gandhi, there has been a pick up in recruitments since the start of the month, again restricted to a handful of sectors. “But [these are] at a cost base which is 15-20 per cent lower on fixed pay for similar roles but offering higher commission on lower thresholds for sales and service jobs in particular.” “Reducing the benefits for new hires is a common theme where benefits like children's education and air tickets are being reviewed. There is a shift to ‘total reward’ where base pay management is centered around promotions [but] limited to a small high-potential employee pool. “This is a big shift from the past where the increases were sprayed across the workforce. As every industry went through a disruption few months ago, we have seen more programmes on re-skilling to help create opportunities for employees to move roles within their organisation.” Still a long way off So, 100 per cent salaries will continue to be on a case-by-case basis. And even within the same industry, there could be businesses that are back to full salary and others that aren’t. The 30 per cent cut is not going to go away… “The law that was implemented earlier this year that related to salary and cost saving measures was UAE Ministerial Resolution 279 of 2020,” said Tapp. “This law permitted companies in the onshore, mainland area to implement temporary or permanent salary reductions - with the consent of their employees. “The law primarily applied to onshore companies, but we know that some of the free zones have implemented similar regulations that are applicable within their jurisdictions.” A 30 per cent cut is all part of that ‘New Normal’…

GulfNews UAE

Dubai resident gets a new lease of life after complex heart surgery at Dr Sulaiman Al Habib Hospital

Health|: Dr Rafik Abu Samra and his team at Dr Sulaiman Al Habib Hospital Dubai have successfully performed a life-saving valve surgery earlier this month on a 38-year old patient from the UK, who had a congenital heart defect. Lorna Gore was born with Tetralogy of Fallot, a cardiac anomaly that was corrected over 34 years ago by a paediatric procedure in the UK. However, the patient developed complications later in life and complained of breathlessness, chest pain and fatigue. Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Hospital in Dubai Image Credit: Supplied “A wide range of heart scans at various hospitals in the UK as well as Dubai revealed that two valves on the right side of her heart were not functioning properly,” says Dr Samra, Consultant Cardiac Surgeon and Head of Cardiac Surgery Department at Dr Sulaiman Al Habib Hospital Dubai. “Doctors, who treated her earlier, also had differing opinions on the treatment approach for the condition, which made it even more challenging for the patient to decide on her next course of action. A surgeon in the UK was reluctant to operate on the patient, considering the complexity of the case.” When Lorna approached Dr Samra’s colleague, Dr Albert Alahmar, a consultant of interventional cardiology, at Dr Sulaiman Al Habib Hospital, he immediately carried out a series of medical investigations to establish the exact anatomy and physiology of her right heart valves. The patient also had pulmonary hypertension, which increased the risk of the surgery. Despite all the challenges, we managed to successfully perform the procedure, replacing the pulmonary valve and repairing the tricuspid valve. Dr Rafik Abu Samra, Consultant Cardiac Surgeon and Head of Cardiac Surgery Department at Dr Sulaiman Al Habib Hospital Dubai “After looking at the test results, the consensus of the cardiac team at the hospital was to replace and repair the damaged valves,” says Dr Alahmar. “Tetralogy of Fallot is a birth defect that affects normal blood flow through the heart. It occurs when a baby's heart does not form correctly while he/she is in the womb. In Lorna’s case, we conducted a redo or re-operative cardiac procedure, which has always been associated with increased mortality,” says Dr Samra, who led the team of doctors for this complex surgery. After looking at the test results, the consensus of the cardiac team at the hospital was to replace and repair the damaged valves. Dr Albert Alahmar, Consultant of interventional cardiology, Dr Sulaiman Al Habib Hospital Dubai “The patient's chest was opened for the second time to fix the valves, and it is very difficult to open the chest for the second time because of all the adhesions from the previous surgery. We took around three hours just to open the chest,” Dr Samra explains. “The patient also had pulmonary hypertension, which increased the risk of the surgery. Despite all the challenges, we managed to successfully perform the procedure, replacing the pulmonary valve and repairing the tricuspid valve.” The patient made excellent recovery after the surgery and went home within a week. “We expect her to return to normal activities within a few weeks,” says Dr Samra, who has years of experience in high-risk heart surgeries. Dr Sulaiman Al Habib Hospital at Dubai Healthcare City offers comprehensive treatment and care for all heart ailments. “We have a very experienced team, who can assess and prepare patients for any kind of surgeries. The hospital also boasts a very advanced intensive care unit (ICU), which plays a vital role in post-operative care. The cardiac team is always ready to not only support patients in issues related to health but they can also address their emotional concerns, delivering higher rates of patient satisfaction,” says Dr Samra. For more information on Dr Sulaiman Al Habib Hospital’s cardiac care department, visit Hmguae.com. Call 04 4297777 to book an appointment with either Dr Rafik Abu Samra, Consultant Cardiac Surgeon and Head of Cardiac Surgery Department, or Dr Albert Alahmar, Consultant, Interventional Cardiology.

GulfNews Sports

Premier League: Manchester City survive Wolves scare to make winning start

Football|: Wolverhampton: Manchester City survived a scare to start their Premier League title challenge with a 3-1 win against Wolves as Phil Foden enjoyed a moment of redemption on Monday. City’s delayed start to the campaign — due to their involvement in last season’s Champions League — had allowed Liverpool to build a six-point lead over them before they had even kicked a ball. See more IPL 2020 in UAE: Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Royal Challengers Bangalore in pictures UAE: Cricket fans watch Delhi Capitals face off against Kings XI Punjab From Shahrukh Khan to Anushka Sharma, IPL in UAE misses its Bollywood stars Pep Guardiola’s side could not afford to slip up at Molineux if they wanted to keep pace with the champions and they raced into a two-goal lead before half-time thanks to Kevin De Bruyne’s penalty and Foden’s cool finish. City’s swaggering first half gave way to an anxious spell as Wolves dominated after the interval and they had to cling on afer Raul Jimenez got one back before Gabriel Jesus sealed the points in stoppage time. Guardiola will not have been happy with the way debutant centre-back Nathan Ake, the club’s major close-season signing from Bournemouth, and his defensive partner John Stones were tormented by Wolves in the second half. While City equalled Aston Villa’s record of winning 10 consecutive opening fixtures to a top-flight season, there is little doubt Liverpool remain the Premier League’s preeminent force for now. Foden’s goal was a welcome morale boost in his first match since the midfielder was sent home in disgrace, along with Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood, after the pair invited local women into the England team’s hotel. The breach of coronavirus protocols after England’s Nations League match in Iceland was publicly condemned by City, but the 20-year-old retains Guardiola’s trust. It feels like a crucial season for City and Guardiola as they look to regain the title they won in 2018 and 2019. Guardiola says he needs to “deserve” an extension to his City contract rather than just be handed one as he enters the final year of his current deal. After finishing 18 points behind Liverpool and suffering a shock Champions League quarter-final defeat against Lyon, City need to push the champions harder this term and the early signs were encouraging. Tense finale Passing and moving with real intent, City went close when De Bruyne forced Wolves keeper Rui Patricio to save his dipping free-kick. It was De Bruyne, showing no signs of relaxing after being voted PFA Player of the Year last season, who took the responsibility of driving City forward and in the 20th minute he prised open the Wolves defence. The Belgium midfielder’s burst into the Wolves area drew a rash lunge from Romain Saiss and referee Andre Marriner awarded a penalty that De Bruyne converted with ease. Since the start of last season, De Bruyne has scored and assisted more Premier League goals (34) than any other player. City were beaten by Wolves twice last season, but this was Guardiola’s team at their imperious best and they struck again with a slick move in the 32nd minute. Gabriel Jesus laid off to De Bruyne and his perfectly-weighted pass found Sterling, whose precise cutback teed up Foden to slot home from 12 yards. De Bruyne had a chance to make it three from Jesus’s pass, but for once he couldn’t apply the finishing touch as Rui Patricio saved well. Totally out-classed in the first half, Wolves were much improved after the break and there were worrying side for Guardiola as he surveyed his creaking defence. Daniel Podence turned to fire just wide and he threatened again with a chip over City keeper Ederson that just cleared the crossbar. Jimenez should have reduced the deficit when he shot wide from Adama Traore’s cross. Jimenez set up a tense finale when he met Podence’s cross with a powerful header in the 78th minute, but Jesus netted deep into stoppage-time as his shot deflected in off Conor Coady.

GulfNews World

COVID-19: UK to outline new restrictions as coronavirus alert level raised

Europe|: London: The UK government will on Tuesday announce new measures to curb rising coronavirus cases across England, hours after upgrading the virus alert level with top advisers warning of a surging death toll within two months without immediate action. Under new rules to come into force on Thursday, English pubs, bars and other hospitality venues will be required to close at 10pm while food and drink outlets will be restricted to table service only. See more From the editors: UAE makes trial COVID-19 vaccine available for frontline workers COVID-19 delays completion date for Spain's Sagrada Familia COVID vaccines approved for emergency use, for front-liners “We know this won’t be easy, but we must take further action to control the resurgence in cases of the virus,” a Downing Street spokesperson said. Similar restrictions are already in place across swathes of northern and central England. Devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are expected to unveil their own nationwide rules imminently. The ramped-up response follows warnings on Monday that the country could see up to 50,000 cases a day by mid-October, and a month later exceed 200 deaths every day. Chief medical officer Chris Whitty said rates of infection were replicating the strong resurgence seen in France and Spain, roughly doubling every seven days. “We are seeing a rate of increase across the great majority of the country,” he said, urging the public to respect stricter guidelines on social distancing,” he said. “This is not someone else’s problem. It’s all of our problem.” The government’s Joint Biosecurity Centre later changed its COVID-19 alert level from three to four to reflect the increase in cases. Level three states that the epidemic is in general circulation while level four reflects that “transmission is high or rising exponentially”. ‘Great concern’ Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair a meeting of Britain’s COBR emergencies committee Tuesday morning ahead of making a statement to parliament. He will also address the nation on live television at around 1900 GMT to detail how the restrictions will help flatten the upward curve in cases going into the winter months when other respiratory infections are typically high. Following widely shared weekend pictures of young revellers out in force in British cities, Johnson called the rising infection rates “a cause for great concern”. The country recorded another 4,368 cases on Monday, levels not seen since early May when the country was still in a stringent lockdown. “The virus is spreading. We are at a tipping point,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock told parliament, adding: “We must all play our part in stopping the spread.” Almost 42,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 have died in Britain, the worst death toll from the pandemic in Europe, despite the months-long shutdown that plunged the country into unprecedented recession. After a summer lull, when the government urged the public to frequent pubs and restaurants to get the economy moving, cases have been rising rapidly. Johnson last week said Britain was already seeing a second wave — in line with parts of Europe — and new localised restrictions were introduced affecting millions across northwest, northern and central England. People in England who refuse to self-isolate to stop the spread of coronavirus could face fines of up to £10,000 under tough new regulations. From September 28, people will also be legally obliged to self-isolate if they test positive or are told to by the National Health Service (NHS) tracing programme. United approach? The UK government in London controls health policy for England but the sector is a devolved issue for the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. That has led to differing approaches to tackling the virus, including for quarantine for visitors from overseas. Johnson’s office said he had calls with Sturgeon and her counterparts in Cardiff and Belfast and they would all attend Tuesday’s emergency meeting. “They all agreed to act with a united approach, as much as possible, in the days and weeks ahead,” a spokesman said. The government in Cardiff earlier announced that three more areas of south Wales would be placed under local lockdown. Meanwhile, no two households will be able to mix in Northern Ireland, the province’s First Minister Arlene Foster said. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he had met local leaders in the capital Monday and would be asking the government to implement “a new London plan to slow the spread of the virus”.

GulfNews World

COVID-19: US closes in on 200,000 coronavirus deaths, weeks before election

Americas|: Washington: The United States edged close to registering 200,000 COVID-19 deaths on Monday, the latest grim milestone for the country just weeks before voters decide if President Donald Trump will stay in office. According to a rolling tally by Johns Hopkins University, 199,743 Americans have died and 6.8 million have been confirmed infected. See more From the editors: UAE makes trial COVID-19 vaccine available for frontline workers COVID-19 delays completion date for Spain's Sagrada Familia COVID vaccines approved for emergency use, for front-liners The US has had the world’s highest official death toll for months, ahead of Brazil and India, with 136,895 and 87,882 deaths respectively. Overall, the US accounts for four per cent of the world’s population and 20 per cent of its coronavirus deaths, while its daily fatality rate relative to the overall population is four times greater than that of the European Union. Critics say the statistics expose the Trump administration’s failure to meet its sternest test ahead of the November 3 election. “Due to Donald Trump’s lies and incompetence in the past six months, (we) have seen one of the gravest losses of American life in history,” his Democratic rival Joe Biden charged on Monday. “With this crisis, a real crisis, a crisis that required serious presidential leadership, he just wasn’t up to it. He froze. He failed to act. He panicked. And America has paid the worst price of any nation in the world.” Trump insisted on “Fox and Friends” Monday that the United States was “rounding the corner with or without a vaccine.” But the president has high hopes that the swift approval of a vaccine will boost his reelection chances. “I would say that you’ll have (a vaccine) long before the end of the year, maybe by the end of October,” he told Fox, adding that his priority was “total safety — it’s number one.” Trump has set even more ambitious goals, stating that by April of next year, most Americans who want to be immunized will have a vaccine. Most experts argue that betting on vaccines is not a viable strategy. Without adhering to masks, distancing and contact-tracing, and without ramping up testing, tens of thousands more could still die before life returns to normal in the US. “What we need to do is shift... towards a more screening approach that’s proactive to test asymptomatic individuals,” Harvard surgeon and health policy researcher Thomas Tsai told AFP. He said the government should approve rapid, at-home antigen tests, which it has been reluctant to do so far, and which would require the government to pay for it instead of insurance companies. “Covid will be the third leading cause of death this year in the US,” tweeted Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) under former president Barack Obama. “The staggering death toll from the virus is a reflection of a failed national response, but it’s not too late to turn it around.” Only the number of people who died from heart disease and cancer will be higher. Series of errors It’s likely that the US actually crossed 200,000 deaths in July, said Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Institute, citing the excess mortality rate. The initial lack of tests led to an undercount of the virus’ toll. “We are the outlier to have been caught totally flat-footed with no testing, and just not learning from mistakes,” Topol added, explaining why the virus continues to kill more than in Europe, despite improvements in how the disease is managed in hospitals. Belgium, Spain and Britain still have higher total death rates per capita than the United States, but were able to partly control the first wave of outbreaks through near-total lockdowns. “We never got adequate suppression, and yet we’re opening everything and trying to make believe that everything is just great,” said Topol. Adoption of public health measures remains mixed across the US. In many cities, students have gone back to school virtually, the indoor areas of bars and restaurants remain closed, and mask use is up. But hotspots are still flaring up, currently in the Midwest and on college campuses that returned to in-person learning. Critics say Trump abdicated responsibility and left it to the state governors to deal with the crisis and decide on lockdowns. “We had a crazy quilt of responses across the country that totally confused the average person,” William Schaffner, a health policy professor at Vanderbilt University, told AFP. “We needed a unified, coherent, strong, national response.” The public health system will be tested as we move into fall and winter, said Harvard epidemiologist Michael Mina. Anticipating a “twindemic” of coronavirus and flu, officials are stocking up on a record number of flu vaccines.