All cases of coronavirus detected in the UAE can be traced to a confirmed carrier of the illness, officials have said.
As confirmed positive tests increase, health officials moved to reassure the public on Saturday, and said the Covid-19 infection was not yet spreading freely in the Emirates.
The number of UAE infections rose to 45 over the weekend.
While there has been “local transmission” of cases within the country, according to the WHO, the sources of the infection had all been traced, the Ministry of Health said.
“Most confirmed cases were uncovered thanks to the early detection at entry points,” Dr Nada Al Marzouqi, a ministry spokesperson, said at a press conference on Saturday, in response to a question about whether all cases could be traced to outside the UAE.
Yesterday, the UAE government issued new guidance on how to self-quarantine at home, for people who may have come into contact with a coronavirus carrier.
New screening measures have also been introduced at several major international points of entry, with members of the public urged to avoid non-essential foreign travel.
Of the 45 cases so far identified, seven people have fully recovered while two are in intensive care.
Several cases were linked to a major international cycle tour, the latter stages of which was cancelled.
Tests are awaited for 26 hotel guests who came into contact with cycle tour members, 56 cyclists and 236 hotel employees, Dr Al Marzouqi said.
She called for public support in helping to contain the spread of the virus, urging residents to ignore “rumours” and have trust in the authorities, while following basic hygiene measures such as hand washing.
“The community is called upon to co-operate with the authorities to maintain public health,” she said.
“We also call upon you to trust the measures that are put in place by the competent authorities to contain the virus.
The success of our efforts is dependent on cooperation as individuals and organisations. This is a national responsibility we all share.”
From March 8, schools and universities across the country will be shut for two weeks. A fortnight-long distance learning initiative will then begin on March 22.
Two of the coronavirus cases identified have been associated with schools.
Parents were urged to help their children with remote learning platforms which schools have put into place.
A special hotline has been set up to provide help to pupils and parents with the new system.
“We reassure you that all the teachers and administrative staff in our institutions are working diligently on ensuring the success of e-learning,” Amna Al Dahak, assistant undersecretary at the Ministry of Education, said.
“This is why we would like to ask all parents to follow up and support their children in their e-learning process. We have launched many activities online through these systems.”
So far, 620 schools are fully equipped for remote learning with 508 principals trained on new systems. Some teachers have also received training, Dr Al Dahak said.
School nurses and even bus drivers are receiving training to spot potential coronavirus cases.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has temporarily closed its land borders with the UAE to all vehicles except for “commercial trucks”.
The same entry restrictions were imposed on Kuwait and Bahrain. Visitors can instead fly into three airports in the Kingdom.
The number of cases reported globally passed 100,000, with more than 3,000 deaths, the majority of which occurred in China.
In Vatican City, it was announced that Pope Francis will not appear in St Peter's Square, to avoid people gathering amid the outbreak.
His general audiences will also be streamed with no participants at papal morning Masses until 15 March, the Vatican announced.
In Italy, the death toll from Covid-19 in Italy has risen to 197 after the largest daily increase in fatalities there since the outbreak began.