DUBAI – Expo 2020 Dubai, a major global fair that opened last week, said on Sunday that three project workers died after contracting COVID-19, bringing the total number of worker deaths since 2015 to six .
The organizer had for the first time disclosed on Saturday three work-related deaths and 72 serious injuries among 200,000 workers during the construction of the site, defending the accident rate as less than half that of construction work in Great- Brittany.
“Unfortunately, we have had three worker-related fatalities due to COVID. It was during the pandemic, ”Expo representative Sconaid McGeachin said in a daily briefing.
McGeachin said the three previously disclosed deaths were construction related. She referred reporters to local authorities for comment on the number of Expo workers who had so far contracted COVID-19.
The Dubai government media office did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment to Reuters.
Huge projects in the Gulf region such as the Expo and Qatar’s preparations to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup have come under international scrutiny, with rights groups criticizing the conditions of low-wage migrant workers.
Overcrowding in worker housing was one of the main factors behind an upsurge in infections in the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf states at the start of the pandemic.
There are limited protections in the UAE and other Gulf states for migrant workers. Blue collar workers, who work long hours and earn low wages, are the most vulnerable. Illegal practices by employers and recruiters are common, such as the illegal imposition of agency and visa fees on blue collar workers.
Expo 2020 says it maintains higher labor standards than UAE law requires, and verifies compliance with contractors and intervenes when violations are found.
He did not publish detailed information about the violations.
The United Arab Emirates does not provide a breakdown of COVID-19 cases and deaths for each emirate, including the regional trade and tourism hub of Dubai. The country has rolled out one of the fastest vaccination campaigns in the world, with more than 80% of the population of some 10 million people vaccinated.
The United Arab Emirates is betting that the six-month Expo will attract 25 million visits. Incoming visitors aged 18 and over must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. There are also testing facilities on site.
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