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WAM: Following India’s advisory, UAE calls citizens to refrain from travelling to India

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

ABU DHABI, 12th March, 2020 (WAM) — The UAE has called on its citizens to refrain from travelling to India at present time, following recent concerns on the new coronavirus, COVID-19, outbreaks in a number of countries.

In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said, “The decision comes in implementation of the instructions issued by the Indian government, which stated that all foreigners holding Indian visas of all kinds will be barred from entering India until further notice as a precautionary measure taken by the Indian government to reduce novel Coronavirus spread.”

The UAE Embassy in New Delhi requested UAE citizens currently in India to register on the ministry’s ‘Twajudi’ service and contact the embassy at +91 81819 11111.

 

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WAM: India suspends visas to contain the spread of COVID-19

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From Krishnan Nayar New Delhi, 11th March, 2020 (WAM) – India tonight announced new, far-reaching steps to contain the spread of Coronavirus or COVID-19 by suspending all visas for inbound travel except diplomatic, official and a few other categories.

“All existing visas, except diplomatic, official, United Nations and other international organisations, employment, project visas, stand suspended till 15th April 2020,” the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said in a late night statement.

The suspension will come into effect from 1200 GMT on March 13 at the point of departure.

The latest order means UAE nationals who have been planning to travel to India will have to postpone their travel until April 15 as of now. UAE passport-holders were eligible so far to get visas on arrival in India.

Overseas citizens of India, OCI, will also not be allowed to board planes bound for India till tonight’s order is revoked. OCI is a category of people of Indian origin who have changed their nationality and are given special passport-like cards that allow them to travel without the need for visas into India.

Simultaneously, Indians have been advised by their government to avoid travelling abroad. The authorities here said Indians arriving at airports in India may be subject to 14 days quarantine as a preventive measure.

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WAM: UNWTO, WHO agree to further cooperation in COVID-19 response

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GENEVA, 11th March, 2020 (WAM) — Zurab Pololikashvili, the Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization, UNWTO, led a high- delegation to the World Health Organization, WHO, headquarters in Geneva to further advance the two agencies’ coordinated response to the worldwide Coronavirus, COVID-19, outbreak.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus welcomed the delegation to Geneva and thanked UNWTO for its close collaboration since the very start of the ongoing public health emergency. On the back of the productive meetings, the heads of both United Nations agencies stressed the need to include the following guiding principles: The importance of international cooperation and responsible leadership at this critical time; the solidarity of the tourism sector and of individual tourists, as well as the responsibility both have for helping minimize the spread and impact of COVID-19 and the key role tourism can play in both containing the COVID-19 outbreak and in leading future response efforts.

Pololikashvili said: “The COVID-19 outbreak is first and foremost a public health issue. UNWTO is following the lead of WHO, with whom we have enjoyed an excellent working relationship from day one. This meeting reaffirmed the importance of strong cooperation and international solidarity and I welcome the Director-General’s recognition of the role tourism can play both now and in the future.”

Pololikashvili and Dr Tedros confirmed the two UN agencies’ commitment to ensuring any response to COVID-19 is proportionate, measured and based on the latest public health recommendations.

Pololikashvili added that the tourism value chain touches upon every part of society. This makes tourism uniquely placed to promote solidarity, collaboration and concrete action across borders in these challenging times and also ideally positioned to once again drive future recovery.

At the same time, the heads of UNWTO and WHO called for responsible communications and reporting of the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak. The UN agencies stress the importance of ensuring all communications and actions are evidence-based so as to avoid stigmatizing sections of society and spreading panic.

UNWTO will also communicate with other UN bodies, including ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) and the IMO (International Maritime Organization), and with IATA (International Air Transport Association) and with key sector stakeholders to ensure tourism’s response is coordinated and consistent.

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WAM: KSA announces recovery of first coronavirus-infected case

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RIYADH, 11th March, 2020 (WAM) — The Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced today the first recovery among the infected with the novel Coronavirus in the Kingdom.

The case was of a citizen under the medical isolation, in Qatif Central Hospital, the Eastern Region, whose all medical examinations and procedures related to his case have been completed and he has recovered, according to the ministry’s statement, published by Saudi Press Agency.

Furthermore, a laboratory examination has proven that the citizen is free of the virus, indicating that he is currently in good health, the statement added.

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WAM: MoFAIC updates foreign diplomatic community on UAE’s efforts to counter coronavirus

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

ABU DHABI, 11th March, 2020 (WAM) — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation held an electronic video briefing today for foreign ambassadors and consuls on the health preparations and precautionary measures taken by the UAE, in light of the emerging coronavirus, COVID-19, crisis currently facing the world.

The briefing was broadcasted live from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation headquarters in Abu Dhabi.

The unconventional briefing involved two sessions. The first session was hosted by Khalid Abdullah Humaid Belhoul, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, with the participation of Dr. Farida Al Hosani, Director of the Communicable Diseases Department, Abu Dhabi Centre for Public Health, and Dr. Saif Juma Al Dhaheri, Director of Safety and Prevention and Spokesperson for National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority, NCEMA.

The second session was hosted by Sheikh Maktoum bin Butti Al Maktoum, Director of the Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Dubai, Dr. Farida Al Hosani and Dr.

Saif Al Dhaheri, as well as by Dr. Khaled Al Mazrouie, Assistant Under-Secretary for Consular Affairs, and Rashid Abdullah Khalfan Al Qasir, Head of the Department of Consulates in the Dubai Office.

During the sessions, the ambassadors and heads of missions and consuls were briefed about the Emirati model of tackling the emergency, one based on transparency and credibility.

The speakers of both sessions reviewed the country’s internal response plan and system of cooperation between relevant federal and local authorities, including in the health sector. The speakers also discussed all relevant health and awareness measures, the travel sector and the precautionary and preventive measures adopted at all entry points in the UAE.

During the briefing, questions and inquiries submitted by ambassadors and consuls were answered.

 

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WAM: Dubai Health Authority continues strong preventive measures against COVID-19

DUBAI, 11th March, 2020 (WAM) — The Dubai Health Authority, DHA, today said it is continuing to take strong and comprehensive preventive measures to protect the community from the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

The DHA has further reinforced its preventive programme and is running campaigns to raise awareness about essential precautionary measures and practices required to combat the spread of the virus and ensure the safety of the residents of Dubai Measures taken by DHA include thorough screenings of passengers travelling into Dubai from across the world through its airports, ports and border checkpoints, especially from countries that have high infection rates of COVID-19. Specialised medical teams are conducting laboratory sampling and following up on suspected cases.

Dr. Badreya Al Harmi, Director of Public Health Protection Department at the DHA, said the Authority has implemented an effective monitoring system for detecting individuals infected by coronavirus.

She said the system facilitates identification of coronavirus cases with high precision and supports medical teams in tracking and following up on those who had contact with confirmed cases. The system adheres to international standards and protocols recognised by the World Health Organization.

Dr. Badreya stressed that all precautionary procedures implemented in this regard are being carried out in coordination and cooperation with concerned authorities, including the Ministry of Health and Prevention, as well as crisis and emergency committees.

She further said the Dubai Health Authority has issued comprehensive guidelines for all government and private health facilities in Dubai and conducted training workshops for their staff.

The DHA has also issued an educational guide designed to raise awareness among all members of society with simple, clear and straightforward information about COVID-19. It has also issued a guide to help all institutions in Dubai disseminate accurate information about the coronavirus and raise awareness on essential preventive measures Furthermore, she said the Authority has raised awareness about precautionary measures in schools and universities. It has also issued a clear and detailed guide on procedures for school bus sterilisation and cleaning and disinfection of public transport.

DHA has an integrated preventive system managed by specialised medical and technical experts equipped with the latest technologies and state-of-the-art equipment, she said.

Dr. Badreya urged members of the public to follow preventive steps and instructions issued by the Dubai Health Authority and other official health authorities in the UAE and avoid misinformation from unofficial sources.

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WAM: WHO declares coronavirus outbreak a pandemic

GENEVA, 11th March, 2020 (WAM) — The World Health Organisation, WHO, sees the outbreak of the new coronavirus as a pandemic, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday.

According to Reuters, he told a press conference, “We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction. We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterised as a pandemic.”

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WAM: Dubai Municipality oversees implementation of sterilisation programme in private schools

Dubai Municipality oversees implementation of sterilisation programme in private schools

DUBAI, 11th March, 2020 (WAM) — As part of the UAE’s efforts to combat the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, and the preventive measures undertaken by various Dubai Government entities, Dubai Municipality oversaw the implementation of sterilisation procedures in 80 private schools in Dubai. The sterilisation was carried out by specialised companies according to the directives of the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention and the guidelines of the World Health Organisation, WHO.

A comprehensive sterilisation programme is being implemented in 208 private schools in Dubai to ensure the health and safety of 300,000 students as well as staff, according to Dr. Naseem Mohammed Rafee, Head of Dubai Municipality’s Public Health and Safety Department. Specialised companies are conducting the sterilisation with products that ensure effective disinfection without causing any harm to people’s health, in compliance with the standards of the Municipality.

Dr. Rafee further said school buses will also be sterilised as part of the programme. The Municipality is currently coordinating with the Roads and Transport Authority, RTA, and private schools to commence the sterilisation of buses.

The sterilisation process in each school will take between 6 and 48 hours depending on the size of the institution. The sterilisation team will not leave the school premises until comprehensive disinfection procedures have been carried out in accordance with Dubai Municipality requirements, she stressed.

The sterilisation procedure seeks to remove debris, organic matter and other material that pose contamination risks and ensure protection from harmful bacteria and viruses. As part of the procedure, cleaning teams spray an anti-microbial protectant on surfaces that provides additional protection for 30 days. The sterilisation also includes controlled fumigation to disinfect AC units.

Dr. Rafee underscored the importance of effective coordination between school management and staff to maintain high levels of hygiene and cleanliness after resumption of classes. Dubai Municipality has issued directives to schools to ensure daily cleaning procedures will be carried out using approved high-quality products to ensure the highest level of decontamination.

Meanwhile, private schools in Dubai have expressed their strong commitment to work closely with all entities to ensure the health and safety of their staff and students as they gear up to start distance learning classes for students from 22nd March as per the directives of the Ministry of Education.

On 7th March, the UAE Ministry of Education announced a comprehensive sterilisation plan for schools and universities in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Prevention. As part of the plan, 620 schools and 6000 school buses have already been sterilised.

 

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WAM: SSC holds meeting to raise awareness over coronavirus

SHARJAH, 11th March, 2020 (WAM) — The Sharjah Sport Council, SSC, held a meeting with a number of specialised entities to discuss raising awareness over the coronavirus outbreak and how to prevent it from spreading in Sharjah’s clubs.

The meeting was held with the Ministry of Health and Prevention, Health Education and Preventive Medicine Departments and Emirates Transport, in the presence of a number of dignitaries.

The participants discussed organising awareness workshops supervised by medical cadres for workers and bus drivers, and creating another way to raise awareness through distance communication. Steps to prevent it from spreading and coordination measures with entities concerned in case of an emergency were also discussed.

Issa Hilal Al Hazami, Secretary-General of SSC, emphasised that the Council is keen to cooperate with specialised entities across various sectors to become an essential platform to spread health and sports education across its clubs.

The SSC has signed a document with the Sharjah Health Authority, which confirms its keenness to consider health as a priority, Al Hazami added.

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WAM: DP World announces 2019 full-year results

DUBAI, 11th March 2020 (WAM) — DP World announced its robust financial results for the year ended 31st December, 2019, stating that its revenue grew 36.1 percent and adjusted EBITDA increased 17.7 percent, with an adjusted EBITDA margin of 43 percent.

The delivered profit attributable to the owners of the company, before separately disclosed items, was US$1,328 million, up 4.6 percent and EPS of 160.0 US cents.

DP World Group Chairman and CEO, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, said, “DP World is pleased to report a like-for-like earnings growth of 5.4 percent in 2019 and attributable earnings of $1,328 million. The adjusted EBITDA grew 17.7 percent to $3,306 million, with margins at 43.0 percent on a reported basis and 49.6 percent on a like-for-like basis. This performance has been delivered in an uncertain trade environment, once again highlighting the resilience of our portfolio.”

He added, “We have continued to make progress on our strategy to deliver integrated supply chain solutions to cargo owners and have focused our efforts on building end-to-end capabilities for several verticals, including the automotive, oil and gas and FMCG industries.”

He further added, “More recently, after much deliberation, DP World has taken the decision to announce its plans to de-list its equity from the stock exchange and return to private ownership. Following the planned delisting, the leverage on the balance sheet will rise temporarily but we are confident of de-leveraging as we remain committed to a strong investment-grade rating in the medium term. Our immediate focus is to integrate our acquisitions and explore synergies with the objective of providing a range of smart end-to-end solutions which will improve the quality of our earnings and drive returns.”

Speaking about the near-term outlook remaining a cause for concern with global trade disputes, the Covid-19 outbreak and regional geopolitics disrupting trade, Bin Sulayem said, “DP World is well-positioned to respond in the short term by focusing on disciplined investment and managing the cost base to protect profitability. Overall, we remain positive on the medium to long-term outlook of the industry.”

“Finally, the Board of DP World recommended a dividend of $332.0 million at 40 US cents per share, which is in line with the past policy of maintaining a payout ratio of at least 20 percent,” he said in conclusion.

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WAM: Etihad Airways announces move to Beijing’s Daxing International Airport

ABU DHABI, 11th March 2020 (WAM) — Effective 1st June 2020, Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, will transfer all its flights to and from Abu Dhabi and Beijing, and its flights to and from Beijing to Nagoya, Japan, to the new state-of-the-art Beijing Daxing International Airport, PKX.

Robin Kamark, Etihad Aviation Group Chief Commercial Officer, said, “In October last year, Abu Dhabi Airports inked a sister-airport partnership with Beijing Daxing International Airport, which will strengthen the capital-to-capital link. Today, we are proud to announce that Etihad Airways will be one of the first airlines in the region to move to Beijing’s iconic Daxing International Airport.

“Since launching flights between Beijing and Abu Dhabi 12 years ago, we have experienced huge growth in China’s tourism and aviation markets, and enjoyed strong demand from business and leisure travellers, and cargo, assisted by direct services, codeshare partners, the mutual visa-exemption policy between the two nations implemented in January 2018, and the great joint efforts put into promoting bi-directional routes. The move also further reinforces our commitment to the China market and our Chinese guests, and contributes to the promising bilateral relationship.

“Whilst the spread of COVID-19 has posed a major challenge for all airlines serving China, with a massive drop in demand on key routes, we remain optimistic that the situation will improve by the summer and we continue serving Beijing from Abu Dhabi presently, demonstrating our unwavering support and commitment to our Chinese partners and the China market as a whole,” Mr. Kamark added.

Maarten de Groof, Chief Commercial Officer, Abu Dhabi Airports, said, “We are proud that Etihad Airways is among the first airlines in the region to serve Beijing Daxing International Airport. Our sister-airport partnership with Beijing’s brand new airport reflects the importance of our long-standing relationship with the Chinese airport sector. Such cooperation and the ever-growing popularity of Abu Dhabi as a destination has enabled this transfer of flights to Beijing’s new airport and we look forward to continue working with Etihad and our Chinese colleagues to enhance our partnership at all levels in the years ahead.”

The daily flights will continue to be operated by the technologically advanced Boeing 787 Dreamliner, featuring the airline’s innovative, award-winning cabin designs and products, complemented by its acclaimed service and hospitality.

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WAM: Free round-the-clock COVID-19 consultations via video, voice calls: DHA

DUBAI, 11th March, 2020 (WAM) — All Dubai residents can now contact Dubai Health Authority, DHA, doctors via video and voice calls, for free 24/7 consultation and queries regarding COVID-19.

The health authority announced in a statement that it is providing this service through its ‘Doctor for Every Citizen’ initiative, which was launched by the authority last December to fulfil the goals of Article 5 of the Fifty-Year Charter.

The initiative, which initially provided family medicine consultations for Emiratis, will now provide free consultation to all Dubai Residents for coronavirus concerns.

Dr. Manal Taryam, CEO of the Primary Healthcare Sector at the DHA said that the authority will utilise telemedicine – which refers to remote clinical healthcare facilitated through apps, calls, and video calls – to provide the public with consultation from certified DHA physicians.

Residents who want answers to their health queries from official sources or are concerned about any symptoms they have can also contact the ‘Doctor for Every Citizen’ service.

“This will especially benefit residents on self-quarantine at home as they will be able to get any health-related queries they may have, answered without leaving the comfort of their homes,” said Dr Taryam.

The DHA advised that individuals should monitor their symptoms whilst at home, and urged individuals to utilise the ‘Doctor for Every Citizen’ initiative should they develop a fever or any flu-like symptoms.

Dr Taryam explained that the Doctor for Every Citizen initiative will cover initial consultation and follow-ups were the physician uses a telehealth platform to communicate with the person while viewing his medical record. The physician will also be able to request lab and radiology tests as well as issue electronic prescriptions.

Under the new service, the public will have round-the-clock access to doctors, specialists and consultants who are DHA certified and trained on using telehealth.

“To access this service all they have to do is download the DHA mobile app and sign up. They then have to book an appointment for the ‘Doctor for every citizen’ service by calling the DHA toll-free number 800 342. Doctors and patients can opt for check-ups via video-call or voice-call,” the DHA official noted.

 

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WAM: UAE Embassy to facilitate return of Emirati citizens from Saudi Arabia

RIYADH, 11th March, 2020 (WAM) — The UAE Embassy in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced that it is coordinating with the Kingdom to arrange for the return of Emirati citizens.

The Embassy noted that it coordinated with UAE national carriers Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways and Saudi national carrier Saudi Arabian Airlines to operate flights for the next 72 hours according to the announced schedule. It commended in this regard the notable cooperation shown by officials of the national carriers in question.

The UAE Embassy also expressed its appreciation to Saudi authorities for their support in facilitating these measures in light of precautions undertaken by the Kingdom to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19.

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WAM: ITU reschedules two key conferences in response to COVID-19 outbreak

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WAM: 5 more people recover from coronavirus in UAE

ABU DHABI, 10th March, 2020 (WAM) — The Ministry of Health and Protection announced the full recovery of a further five people from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the total number of recovered cases in the country to 17.

The Ministry said in a statement today that the individuals – three Emiratis, an Egyptian and a Moroccan – are now “symptom-free” after receiving the necessary health treatment in hospital.

The Ministry affirmed that the UAE’s handling of the cases, from diagnosis until recovery, reflects the strength of its health care system, thanks to the support of the leadership and its concern to provide the highest levels of health care for all.

It added that infected individuals are being dealt with according to the highest health standards, and are kept under close observation and the care of specialised medical teams that conform to the standards of the World Health Organisation, until they make a full recovery.

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WAM: Diligent testing reveals 15 new COVID-19 cases, individuals were all under quarantine following travel: MoHAP

ABU DHABI, 10th March, 2020 (WAM) — The Ministry of Health and Prevention, MoHAP, has announced 15 new cases of the coronavirus, COVID-19, in the UAE on Tuesday.

According to a statement released by the Ministry, the individuals – who were traveling prior to their entry into the UAE – were placed under quarantine as suspected cases subsequent to their entry into the UAE. Following diligent testing and monitoring, the individuals were confirmed positive with COVID-19, it added.

The total number of positive coronavirus cases in the UAE has now reached 74, 12 of which have fully recovered, the MoHAP statement affirmed.

The 15 individuals diagnosed with the new coronavirus include three Italians, two Emiratis, two Sri Lankans, two British, two Indians, one German, one South African, one Tanzanian and one Iranian.

MoHAP confirmed that the cases are being monitored, and individuals are currently in a stable condition and are receiving all necessary health care required.

MoHAP assured that medical facilities have been equipped with all the necessary medical equipment and supplies to provide care and take all measures required to deal with COVID-19, including airborne infection isolation rooms, following World Health Organisation, WHO, standards.

The Ministry advised the members of the general public to adhere to preventative health and personal hygiene measures to prevent the spread of the epidemic.

It noted basic protective measures such as the frequent washing of hands; when coughing and sneezing to cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue and discarding of the tissue immediately; and to seek early medical care if symptoms of fever, cough and difficulty in breathing arise.

The Ministry also advised individuals with respiratory illness symptoms to avoid mixing in crowded places. It also called on members of the public to seek information from official sources, and avoid the spreading of misinformation.

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WAM: DHA explains travel procedures in place for COVID-19

DUBAI, 10th March, 2020 (WAM) — While health authorities across the world are asking travellers to postpone their travel plans unless necessary, it is important for those who travel to know the checks and measures in place as well as their responsibility, especially if they have recently travelled to places of widespread coronavirus transmission.

On Thursday, 5th March, the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention asked all citizens and residents to avoid travelling due to COVID-19. The Ministry highlighted that if travel is necessary, preventive measures will be taken upon the traveller’s return to the UAE.

In a statement released by the Ministry today, Dr Manal Taryam, CEO of Primary Healthcare at the DHA discussed the latest measures in the UAE.

She said, “DHA and all relevant health authorities in the UAE are working together and have in place screenings at the airport as well as after-travel precautions that people with recent history of travel to places of concern must follow. All these measures are aimed to control and slow the spread of coronavirus.”

“Depending on the travel history, people may be asked to stay home for a period of 14 days,” explained Dr. Taryam.

Dubai airports have been carrying out strict measures such as non-intrusive thermal screening for all passengers that arrive at Dubai airports and passengers from countries with a high infection rate are screened twice.

Now, passengers who return from Countries of Concern or from one of the top ten countries reporting local transmission of COVID-19 disease will also have to undergo home isolation for 14 days, to ensure they remain infection free and avoid spreading the virus in case they end up developing symptoms during the 14-day incubation period.

Presently, the Countries of Concern are China, Hong-Kong, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan, Germany, Singapore and France but the list can quickly change depending on the situation.

Dr Taryam said, “All travelers who return from Countries of Concern will be asked to practice home quarantine and social distancing as a way of protecting their loved ones and the community members from the spread of the virus. The period of home quarantine will be for 14 days since that is the incubation period of this virus.”

Dr Taryam said that during the stay at home quarantine, community members should keep an eye if they develop a fever or any flu-like symptoms. They should avoid contact with others, they should not go to work or school for this 14-day period.

During this time, Dr Taryam said that they should be responsible, avoid taking any public transportation, and avoid any crowded public place. “The basic idea is to stay indoors and to keep a distance from other family members (about 3 feet or 1 meter) until the self-isolation period is over. This is a matter of community health and it’s a precaution that should be taken seriously.”

For school students and all school staff, self-isolation for 14 days after returning to the UAE is mandatory irrespective of which country they have travelled to. While schools are shut until 5th April, all students and staff who have travelled during period of closure will need to practice self-isolation for 14 days.

If an individual gets sick with fever (37.5 C or higher) or have symptoms of any respiratory illness, they should seek medical care. The DHA advised individuals to call ahead before visiting their doctor’s office or emergency room. “Tell your doctor about your recent travel and your symptoms, and avoid contact with others,” it added.

Dr Taryam said, “We are working round-the-clock to protect community members and care for them. We urge the public to join us in our fight against COVID-19. Responsible behaviour helps protect your loved ones and community members, it prevents the ongoing community spread of COVID-19.”

She also added that people should only rely on information from official sources and those who have any query can call the following numbers DHA call centre -800 342, Estijaba service at the operation centre, Department of Health – 8001717 or Ministry of Health & Prevention – 80011111.

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WAM: Local Press: UAE taking timely measures against virus

UAE PressABU DHABI, 10th March, 2020 (WAM) — The turbulence caused by the coronavirus disease, COVID-19, continues unabated and the global community remains evidently rattled, a UAE newspaper has commented editorially, adding that since it first emerged in late December, 2019, over 110,560 cases have been recorded in as many as 100 countries and territories, killing 3,862 people.

“The impact has been mind-boggling. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been wiped from financial markets and millions of people in northern Italy have been put under lockdown,” said Gulf Today in an editorial on Tuesday, noting that the deadly virus has shuttered factories, extensively disrupted travel, delayed major conferences and sporting events and, adding to the anxiety, is still accelerating in many countries.

The paper continued, “Stock markets have fallen sharply worried by an historic crash in oil prices and by fears the coronavirus will affect the global economy.

“So much so that trading in New York had to be briefly halted immediately after opening as the S&P 500 fell 7%.

“Worries also persist that the spreading disease will force several economies into recession and this is where world leaders need to step in and allay fears of people through pro-active, collective action.

“Government policymakers should implement substantial targeted fiscal, monetary and financial market measures to combat the economic impact from the coronavirus, as recommended by International Monetary Fund, IMF, officials.

“IMF Chief Economist Gita Gopinath’s suggestion to put cash directly into the hands of households and businesses makes perfect sense.

“Broad interest rate cuts may instill confidence but would be effective in stimulating activity only once business conditions normalise.

“Households and businesses hit by supply disruptions and a drop in demand could be targeted to receive cash transfers, wage subsidies, and tax relief, helping people to meet their needs and businesses to stay afloat.

“The epidemic poses a global challenge and calls for a global response. The virus has bruised important sports events too. The BNP Paribas Open, set to begin this week in the California desert, won’t be played as scheduled.

In France, the Champions League match between Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund at Parc des Princes will be played without fans. World Cup qualifying games in Asia have been formally postponed until at least September.

Robust containment and control activities are needed to reduce the impact of the virus and it is heartening that the UAE is moving on the right track on this front.

Since the emergence of the epidemic in China, the UAE authorities have spared no effort in monitoring the spread of the virus in the country and handling it according to the highest medical standards.

Several precautionary measures have been put in place, including the installation of detection thermal imaging systems and health checks at the country’s border entry points, and isolating confirmed and suspected cases.

Residents themselves have a crucial role to play during such challenging times. As suggested by the Ministry of Health and Prevention, members of the public should adhere to preventative health measures and refer to the tips offered on its website to prevent the spread of the disease.

Members of the community need to adopt healthy habits that help protect individuals from infectious diseases, including washing hands well with soap and water, and covering the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing to prevent the spread of germs and viruses.

“Also, people with respiratory symptoms must avoid mixing in crowded places, while members of the public also need to avoid misinformation and rumours by referring to official sources for information,” concluded the Sharjah-based daily.

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WAM: WHO says threat of coronavirus pandemic ‘very real’

GENEVA, 9th March, 2020 (WAM) — The threat of a global pandemic is rising as the new coronavirus rapidly spreads across the world from Asia, to Europe, the Middle East and now parts of the United States, according to the World Health Organisation’s Chief.

“Now that the virus has a foothold in so many countries, the threat of a pandemic has become very real,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at a conference call in the organisation’s Geneva headquarters Monday.

While the virus is slowing in China, where it originated in December, it’s picking up pace across other parts of the world, spreading to more than 100 countries with more than 111,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Korea has the most cases outside of China with roughly 7,500 infections, followed closely by Italy and Iran, which both had more than 7,000 cases as of Monday morning, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

“When you reach 100 countries and when you reach 100,000 cases, it is time to step back and think, two weeks ago it was 30 countries,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, the executive director of the WHO’s emergencies programme.

Tedros said only a handful of countries “have signs of sustained community transmission,” adding that it’s still too early for world leaders to give up.

He said 70 percent of the more than 80,000 confirmed cases in China have recovered and been discharged from the hospital, saying the outbreak there may be ending.

“China is bringing its epidemic under control,” he said.

In the meantime, new precautionary measures have been declared by a number of countries, with Saudi Arabia reducing to five minutes the time between adhan and iqama, under a decision by Sheikh Dr. Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz Al Al Sheikh, Minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance of Saudi Arabia. As part of the decision, Friday orations won’t exceed 15 minutes in a bid to reduce crowd and provide the utmost protection for the safety of citizens and residents.

In Egypt, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly decided on Monday to suspend all crowded events or large gatherings until further notice. The decision is part of the precautionary measures the government has adopted to stop the spread of coronavirus, the Egyptian cabinet said in a statement.

WAM/Hatem Mohamed
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All rights for the news and photos reserved to Emirates News Agency WAM
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WAM: Five more coronavirus patients recover in UAE: Health Ministry

MOH

ABU DHABI, 9th March, 2020 (WAM) — The Ministry of Health and Prevention today announced the “full recovery” of five further cases from the coronavirus (COVID-19) following hospitalisation.

The ministry said in a statement on Monday that two Emiratis, two Ethiopians, and a Thai national are the latest to recover from the virus, bringing to 12 the total recovered cases in the country.

The Ministry affirmed that the UAE’s handling of the cases – from diagnosis until recovery – reflects the strength of its health care system, thanks to the support of the leadership and its concern to provide the highest levels of health care for all.

It added that infected individuals are being dealt with according to the highest health standards, and are kept under observation and the care of specialised medical teams that conform to the standards of the World Health Organisation.

WAM/Rasha Abubaker/Hassan Bashir
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All rights for the news and photos reserved to Emirates News Agency WAM