Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed has reassured the UAE that the country has enough supplies of food and medicine to address the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces said the Emirates was “faring well” thanks to early efforts to contain infection rates.
In a statement on Wam, the government news agency, he argued that the difference between nations who adopted early measures to contain the virus and those which did not were clear to see.
“In the UAE, we have adopted rational and early advanced precautionary measures before other countries around us to stand up to the challenge," he said.
"Therefore, the infection tally in the UAE is less thanks to our early response to contain the virus at its onset.
The UAE has implemented a series of measures over recent weeks aimed at containing the outbreak.
Schools have been closed, events cancelled and residents have been encouraged to practise “social distancing” - a measure that has been proven to slow the spread of the virus in hard-hit countries such as South Korea.
But despite the continuing precautions, some UAE residents have begun stockpiling food and items like toilet paper, repeating scenes of bulk buying seen in other countries.
Sheikh Mohamed urged restraint, however, saying there was no need to stockpile as the UAE had enough supplies.
"There are a lot of things the state is doing which we can't reveal,” he said.
“I'd like to reassure every citizen and resident of the UAE that our country is infinitely able to supply everyone with all the food and medicine they could ever need.”
Meanwhile on Monday, Sheikh Mohamed and other officials from the Emirates were briefed by a Covid-19 working group in a video conference.
During the meeting, Sheikh Mohamed conveyed the directives of President Sheikh Khalifa to use all available resources to contain the outbreak.
On Tuesday, the UAE called on its citizens living or working overseas to return home to the country amid increasing international travel restrictions.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation also urged any Emirati who found themselves unwell while abroad to contact the relevant UAE embassy to arrange for their safe return.
“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and many flight restrictions around the world, the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation urges all UAE nationals currently outside the country to return home,” a statement said.
“The ministry also asks students and patients that they contact the UAE embassies in they countries they are in to co-ordinate a safe return.”
To date, the pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 7,000 people and there are now around 182,000 known cases of Covid-19 worldwide. The UAE has recorded 98 cases.
Abdulrahman Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, said on Monday that most of those infected in the country were in a stable condition, except for two cases who were still in intensive care.
''The capacity and readiness of all health facilities and labs in the public and private sectors have been upgraded to conduct high-efficiency virus tests,'' Mr Al Owais said.
He said all passengers arriving in the UAE were subject to precautionary measures, including medical examinations and thermal scanning through 32 land, sea and air entry points.
Sheikh Mohamed said the role the media played in battling the virus was key. He called on organisations to help raise awareness and prevent the spread of fake rumours.
"We won't hesitate to take any further precautionary steps if necessity arises over the coming period," he said.
"Our traditions are very dear to us but we must be practical during these times. I ask every Emirati and resident to do what is necessary, and let's not allow our traditions to become a source of harm to our families and society.
"Take care of your mothers and fathers and families."
He went on to express his appreciation for the UAE's health workers who were focused on tackling the virus.
"They stand on the front line of our defences," Sheikh Mohamed said. "We owe them a great debt and we will never forget their service."
Also on Monday, Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, was lit up in the green, white and red colours of the Italian flag to show solidarity with the country, the worst hit in Europe.
It also had the words "We are with you" as a sign of support. Covid-19 has so far killed 2,158 people in Italy and infected 27,980.