Coronavirus: UAE announces 15 new cases

The latest cases bring the total number of positive tests in the Emirates to 74

A commuter, wearing protective face mask walks through a metro station in downtown Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Thursday, March 5, 2020. The Middle East’s travel and business hub has called on citizens and residents to avoid travel due to the coronavirus risk. Photographer: Christopher Pike/Bloomberg

The UAE announced 15 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, bringing the total number recorded in the country to 74.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention said those infected had been placed in quarantine and are all in a stable condition.

Three of the patients are from Italy, and two each from the UAE, the United Kingdom, Sri Lanka and India. The remaining four are from Germany, Tanzania, South Africa and Iran.

The health authority confirmed five more people had recovered from the coronavirus, taking the number to be given a clean bill of health to 17.

Officials repeated advice to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water and cover the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing with the inside of the elbow to avoid spreading germs.

People with respiratory symptoms were also advised to avoid mixing in crowded places, while members of the public were told to avoid misinformation and rumours by referring to official sources for information.

The announcement comes a day after officials confirmed 14 new cases in the country.

Authorities have taken steps to curb the spread of Covid-19, which has infected more than 114,000 people across the globe.

Schools and universities began a month-long shutdown on Sunday to help prevent the spread of the virus.

The spring break, which was due to begin on March 29, instead started on March 8 and will last two weeks. Distance learning will be introduced during the remaining two weeks, with pupils learning from home.

Government schools will run a home-teaching programme called Learn from Afar from March 22 to April 5.

Cleaning operations have been launched at places of worship while a number of live events, such as music concerts, have been postponed as part of the ongoing safety measures.

Last week, authorities urged Emiratis and expatriates to avoid foreign travel as airports ramped up checks on arriving passengers.

Returning residents may be tested at the airport and - depending on their travel history - be placed in 14-day quarantine at home, the Ministry of Health said. Tourists from a range of countries, including high-risk outbreak areas, can also expect checks.

Basic tests involve walking past thermal scanners, which allow medical officials to spot raised body temperature, potentially caused by fever. Some airports use handheld temperature scanners placed on a passenger's forehead, which works in the same way and takes moments.

On Tuesday, Dubai Health Authority said passengers returning from 'countries of concern' would have to undergo home isolation for 14 days to ensure they remain infection-free and to avoid spreading the virus further should they display symptoms during the incubation period.

The at-risk countries are currently listed as China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan and France.

Hong Kong and Singapore are also part of the list, which officials said could be revised depending on the spread of the virus in the coming days and weeks.

"All travelers who return from Countries of Concern will be asked to practice home quarantine and social distancing as a way of protecting their loved ones and the community members from the spread of the virus," said Dr Manal Taryam, chief executive of primary healthcare at the DHA.

"The period of home quarantine will be for 14 days since that is the incubation period of this virus."

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