Coronavirus: UAE announces 27 new cases of Covid-19

Authorities say the country now has 140 confirmed cases, including 31 recoveries

The UAE has announced 27 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the country's total to 140.

On Thursday, authorities also said five people had recovered from Covid-19, including three Emiratis, a Syrian citizen and a Sri Lankan citizen. That brought the UAE's total number of recoveries to 31, since the country recorded its first case in January.

Most cases recorded in the Emirates were found in people who had recently travelled or had come into contact with an infected person, said Dr Farida Al Hosani, director of the communicable diseases department at Abu Dhabi’s Department of Health.

It is a joint responsibility, the person should commit to protecting their loved ones and those around them by adhering to self-isolation

At a press conference, streamed live on state TV, Dr Al Hosani reiterated that the UAE had made 14-day self-isolation mandatory for anyone who had recently travelled into the country. She also called for panic buying to cease, reminding everyone that the country was well stocked with food and medical supplies.

"I stress that there is excellent co-ordination between all parties in the UAE and medical and other supplies are sufficient," she said.

Dr Al Hosani said people at higher risk should self-isolate to avoid potentially contracting the virus. She said this should apply to pregnant women, the elderly, anyone with a respiratory illness and those who are immunocompromised.

The UAE has introduced raft of strict measures to stem the spread of coronavirus, including closing its borders to all travellers except returning Emiratis and diplomats. The ban on entrants included UAE residents, some of whom have since been stuck abroad unable to return.

On Thursday, Dr Al Hosani said there were 4,340 Emirati students studying abroad who would be put into quarantine on return to the UAE but did not say when they would return.

The country has also closed schools, cancelled events, shut tourist sites, cinemas and gyms, and issued rules to restaurants, including spacing tables at least two metres apart.

Asked if restaurants should cease using non-disposable crockery, Dr Al Hosani said all establishments had been briefed on best hygiene practices to ensure tableware and cutlery was safe to use.

She said all members of the public had a vital role to play in protecting the community from contracting Covid-19.

She said the UAE is prepared to manage any new cases and had “increased its capacity” to ensure it can take on people who need to be monitored in quarantine.

This week, the UAE Attorney General, Hamad Al Shamsi, said anyone caught not complying with mandatory self-isolation would be prosecuted.

Dr Al Hosani said the onus was on both authorities and individuals to ensure they remained in self-quarantine to avoid putting others at risk.

“Quarantine is the main measure to prevent the spread of Covid-19, so we call all new arrivals to the country to stick to home-isolation,” she said.

“It is a joint responsibility, the person should commit to protecting their loved ones and those around them by adhering to self-isolation.”

In regards to preventive medical treatment, Dr Al Hosani said health authorities were keeping tabs on any new developments on a potential cure or vaccine to reduce the likelihood of contracting Covid-19.

"We assure everyone that, if anything proves useful, we will be very quick to introduce it in UAE."
Asked about precautions taken to reduce the spread of coronavirus in labour accommodation, Dr Al Hosani said companies had been briefed on the best ways to keep their staff safe.

“There is constant co-ordination between the Ministry of Health and Prevention and other parties, and an educational guide that shows what should be done in labour accommodation and within residential homes has been distributed.”