Barricades blocked the streets of one of Dubai's most densely populated districts on Tuesday as residents began a two-week stay inside during disinfection.
The normally bustling neighbourhood of Al Ras in Deira, home to the gold souq and labyrinthian alleys, was deserted as police ensured residents stayed indoors.
Once inside, no visitor or resident is allowed to leave. Entrances from Al Musalla, Al Khaleej, and Baniyas streets were closed. The Al Ras, Palm Deira and Baniyas Square stations on the metro Green Line were shut and commuter trains will pass through without stopping.
Officials made the decision in the early hours of Tuesday. They pointed to its dense population and the need to heavily sterilise streets and buildings.
In Al Kuwaiti supermarket in the safe zone, shoppers picked up basic supplies and protective equipment.
“People are only coming here for milk, biscuits and nuts, that’s it,” said Ahmed, whose store is on on the edge of the barricade on the corner of 10th street.
“We sell masks and hand sanitisers, that is what people want now.
“There are only a few people left around here. We have a shop inside the zone too, but we can’t go there now.”
Ahmed said a Chinese wholesaler calls into his market to offer new supplies of protective masks every few days. The man sells the shops boxes of 50 masks for Dh110.
Behind the barricades, residents could be seen leaning on the rails of their balconies.
A delivery man threw a parcel of bread over a barricade to a customer on the restricted side.
Dubai Health Authority said everyone inside the zone will be provided with essential supplies until April 14.
On nearby Baniyas Square, a leafy public park under which the closed metro station stands, Al Samah Pharmacy was running low on basics.
There were 15 bottles of isopropyl alcohol gel on the shelves it was down to its last 15 masks, rationed to one a customer at Dh2.50 each.
“Everything is closed now because of corona,” said Khaled, 27, a Pakistani security guard at Universal Exchange Centre, located on the safe side.
“Inshallah, my job is safe, but there are no people now, so who knows?
“I can’t go anywhere now so I must stay here. My family are back home in Punjab, they said life is very different there too.
“I check every customer coming into the bank with a thermometer gun.
“Out of all the people I checked, only a few had a high reading. But maybe it was just a temperature and nothing else.”
Anyone with a high reading was referred to police, who passed them to a doctor for further checks.
According to the World Health Organisation, the most common symptoms of Covid-19 is fever, fatigue and a perpetual dry cough.
As of Tuesday, March 31, more than 780,000 people had been infected in more than 170 countries.
Police warned those without personal protective equipment to keep away as the sterilisation programme got under way.
A police officer guarding the barricade said residents inside understood the situation.
“People are staying calm and being co-operative. People here know they must keep their distance," he said.
“Anyone who goes in, cannot come out.”