UAE ready for 'worst case' COVID-19 scenarios, says government

UAE ready for 'worst case' COVID-19 scenarios, says government

A traveller wears a mask as she arrives at the Dubai International Airport, after the UAE's Mi
A traveller wears a mask as she arrives at the Dubai International Airport, after the UAE's Ministry of Health and Community Prevention confirmed the country's first case of coronavirus, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates Jan 29, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Christopher Pike)

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates, a major international air transit centre, is prepared for "worst case scenarios" as the new coronavirus spreads in the Middle East, a government official said on Wednesday (Feb 26).

Three Gulf Arab states recorded their first new coronavirus cases this week, all in people coming from Iran, the UAE's neighbour across the Gulf which on Wednesday reported a total of 19 virus-related deaths, the most outside China, and 139 cases.

Authorities have enough facilities to quarantine patients and will be carrying out surveillance on people entering the country, said the official from the UAE National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority.

It was too early to ban public gatherings in the business, trade and tourism hub, added the official. Dubai is due to host the Expo 2020 world fair in October for six months.

Interactive: COVID-19 cases worldwide

The UAE has reported 13 cases of the new coronavirus since Jan 28, three of whom have recovered.

Three Gulf Arab states recorded their first new coronavirus cases this week, all in people coming from Iran, the UAE's neighbour across the Gulf which on Tuesday reported a total of 16 virus-related deaths, the most outside China.

"We are quite satisfied that we have taken all the necessary steps needed to preempt the spread of the virus at all levels, without pushing the country into a state of unwarranted panic," the UAE official said.

The disease, which originated in China late last year, has infected about 80,000 people and killed more than 2,700, the vast majority in China.

Kuwait, which last week evacuated 700 people from Iran, said on Wednesday that the number of people diagnosed with the virus had risen to 25 after 13 more cases were confirmed.

Bahrain said on Wednesday the total of people diagnosed with the virus had risen to 26, some of whom had travelled through the UAE. Bahrain has suspended flights to Dubai.

READ: Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq report coronavirus cases linked to Iran

Kuwait, which last week evacuated 700 people from Iran, has reported 18 cases and Oman four cases.

Several Arab countries have suspended flights to Iran and other destinations and imposed shipping restrictions.

Kuwait has barred foreign ships, except those carrying oil, from departing to or arriving from several countries, according to a Feb 25 notice seen by Reuters. 

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Source: Reuters/nr

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