ABU DHABI, 7th March, 2020 (WAM) — The rapid spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) has clearly rattled the world, with normal life thrown out of gear, pointed out an editorial published by the English language daily Gulf Today on Saturday.
Business districts are emptying and stock markets have tumbled as the number of coronavirus infections has surpassed 100,000 globally, the newspaper noted.
Across the world, over 3,400 people have died from the virus. There have been more than 100,000 infections in 89 countries and territories and the number is increasing by the day, the daily said.
The editorial went on to say that the main countries affected after mainland China are South Korea (6,284 cases, of which 196 new and 42 deaths), Italy (3,858 cases, 148 deaths), Iran, (4,747 cases, 124 deaths) and France (577 cases, of which 46 new, and nine deaths).
“The challenges are mounting as Bhutan, Cameroon, occupied West Bank, Serbia, and the Vatican have all announced their first cases.
“An increasing number of people in many countries face a new reality as many are asked to stay home from work, schools remain closed, large gatherings and events cancelled.
“One of the most worrisome aspects is also that school closures in 13 countries linked to the COVID-19 virus epidemic have disrupted the education of more than 290 million students, a record number, as per UN education agency UNESCO.
“Italy and India are the latest to shut schools over the deadly coronavirus,” it added.
It further noted that disadvantaged children are the worst-hit by the emergency measures, quoting UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, who pointed out, “While temporary school closures as a result of health and other crises are not new, unfortunately, the global scale and speed of the current educational disruption is unparalleled and, if prolonged, could threaten the right to education.”
It continued, “A further nine countries have implemented localised school closures: UNESCO estimates that, if these countries close schools nationwide, a further 180 million children will be prevented from attending school.
“The extent of the damage to the global economy caused by COVID-19 moved further into focus on Wednesday as UN economists announced a likely US$50 billion drop in worldwide manufacturing exports in February alone.”
The UAE, on its part, has been taking timely and right measures to tackle the situation, the paper said.
“Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police and Head of Dubai’s Crisis and Disaster Management Team, Major General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, has made it clear that all concerned authorities are working round the clock in coordination with the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention, MoHAP, and Dubai Health Authority’s, DHA, medical team to implement precautionary measures against COVID-19 and ensure the highest levels of safety and protection for the public.
“Substantial preventive measures have been put in place in various airports and seaports in the emirate.
“Measures have also been taken to screen passengers effectively in a hassle-free manner in order to avoid any delay or inconvenience at the ports of entry.
“Equipment to screen passengers for coronavirus symptoms have been installed at all travel points. Nothing is left to chance and all passengers including transit passengers are being screened.
“MoHAP has urged citizens and foreign residents to avoid travelling abroad due to the spread of COVID-19 in multiple countries,” it stated.
The general public has a definite role to play, the newspaper noted.
As suggested by officials, people should follow basic protective measures such as frequently washing hands; when coughing and sneezing to cover the mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue and discard tissue immediately; and seek early medical care if symptoms of fever, cough and difficulty in breathing arise, concluded the editorial.