Coronavirus: UAE announces 13 new cases as official calls for public to adopt social distancing

Dr Farida Al Hosani, of Department of Health Abu Dhabi, calls on people to avoid public transport, malls and restaurants

Dr Farida Al Hosani, director of the communicable diseases department at Abu Dhabi’s Department of Health. Courtesy Oloum Aldar
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Authorities urged the public to adhere to social distancing guidelines as the UAE announced 13 new cases of coronavirus and seven recoveries.

Dr Farida Al Hosani, head of the communicable diseases section at the Department of Health Abu Dhabi, said most patients were stable and all were being treated.

Four of the patients are from Bangladesh, three are from Pakistan, three from the UK, and one each are from Portugal, Poland and the US.

Dr Al Hosani said seven more people had recovered from the virus in the country.

Of the latest batch of recoveries, two are Emirati, two are Indian, one is from the UK, one is from the Philippines and one is from Italy.

Dr Al Hosani highlighted the importance of people staying at home whenever possible and away from crowded places in response to videos of people at beaches and parks.

"In the past few hours, we have seen videos of people going to public parks and beaches," she said.

"Consequently, we would like to stress the importance of adhering to social distancing rules put in place."

Dr Al Hosani said people should keep one metre away from others.

She said precautionary measures adopted by authorities had received widespread support across the country.

Dr Al Hosani issued a reminder that anyone caught breaking home quarantine would face prosecution.

"The UAE Attorney General has said there will be legal action against anyone caught breaking home quarantine and we call up everyone to abide by the rules," she said.

Dr Al Hosani said people should use public transport only in an emergency.

She also advised the public to postpone any non-emergency dental appointments.

People were also urged to continue to work from home to help minimise the threat of further infections.

"We have issued guidelines for all businesses to protect themselves and employees from coronavirus," Dr Al Hosani said.

"We encourage all public and private entities to work remotely. We also recommend people adopt smart services for client-facing businesses."

The death toll from coronavirus exceeded 13,000 globally, as Spain became the fourth country to report more than 1,000 fatalities.

The UAE announced its first deaths on Saturday morning. They were an Arab man, 78, who had returned from Europe, and an Asian man, 58.

Saturday's announcement meant there were 153 recorded cases of coronavirus in the UAE, with 38 people making complete recoveries.

Iran, the centre of the pandemic in the Middle East, said 123 more people have died, while Kuwait and Oman confirmed a rise in cases.

In the UK, restaurants, cafes and bars were told to close as the government unveiled an economic package to pay the wages of people who were not working.

About 92,000 patients have recovered, almost a third of the 300,000 and more cases health authorities have reported since the outbreak.

On Thursday, the UAE announced that all non-Emiratis would be suspended from entering the country as part of measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

Only Emiratis returning to the UAE will be allowed in while other residents will not be permitted for two weeks.

The decision by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation was announced by the state news agency Wam and could be extended.

The issuing of all new work permits and visas on arrival was also suspended.

All travellers who have entered the UAE in recent days must undergo 14 days of mandatory self-quarantine or risk legal action, said the country's Attorney General, Dr Hamad Al Shamsi.

Dr Al Shamsi said ignoring precautionary measures, including quarantine, was a punishable crime.