Coronavirus: Dubai Creek residents tell of life inside quarantine zone

Families in Al Ras face two weeks of isolation as streets are sanitised and potential cases identified

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Residents of a Dubai neighbourhood stocked up on food on Wednesday, on the second day of a fortnight-long lockdown.

The bustling community of Al Ras, home to the gold souq, was barricaded off on Tuesday as a precaution against coronavirus.

Residents told of an anxious two weeks ahead but said they would be safe in quarantine. The area on the north bank of the Creek is among the most densely packed in the city.

Abdul Malik, the owner of a wholesale perfume business, lives in an apartment with his 10 employees. He bought 40 kilograms of rice and dozens of packets of lentils to feed everyone.

"There are so many tourists who came here and maybe they came with corona, so it's good for safety to shut Al Ras," he told The National.

Everyone has heard the government will help people who don't have food so we are not worried yet

“There are some workers who do not have money to stock up for two weeks but everyone heard the government will help people who don’t have food, so we are not worried yet.”

No one will be allowed in or out of the zone for the next fortnight as streets and buildings are disinfected.

Residents stepped out only to buy fresh milk and groceries.

Mohammed Imtiaz, who works in a garment and cosmetics store, walked to the end of the street to take a delivery of vegetables and home-cleaning products.

Delivery staff are not allowed to come to his doorstep but can hand provisions over the barricades.

“You can walk out of the building but you can’t go beyond the street,” said the father of two children, aged 13 and 8.

“There are barricades on most streets but you can walk up to them. People are staying in their flats because they don’t want to be exposed.

"Everyone is afraid. People don’t want to go out. But I leave the building if we need to buy something.”

Mr Imtiaz said his children understood the need for quarantine but his daughter had asked how long it would last.

“She knows it’s important for safety but she has been saying, ‘When will the corona go?'” he said.

Roads leading to the district, including Al Musalla, Al Khaleej, and Baniyas, were shut.

The Al Ras, Palm Deira and Baniyas Square stations on the metro Green Line were also closed.

Police officers surround the neighbourhood, guarding a perimeter fence of concrete barriers.

Hussain Abdullah, 36, from the Comoros Islands, runs the Kangaroo pillow making company in Al Khor Street.

Mr Abdullah said life inside the zone was very different now.

“We have had to stop the business because of the coronavirus,” he said.

“From my side everything is OK but this may change."

Mr Abdullah said he was reluctant to have the coronavirus test, even though officials have reassured people it is a simple nasal swab, possibly followed by a swab of the back of the throat.

Officials spoke of their frustration at the spread of fake news and rumours that have led to unnecessary panic.

“I am just staying at home and not going outside,” Mr Abdullah said.

“I hope that when the weather gets hot, this virus will finish. Maybe in a month or so this tragedy will end. We can only hope.

“The police are being very helpful and we are getting advice to stay at home. It is better for everybody."