Coronavirus: UAE steps up efforts to protect the public from Covid-19

Authorities urge the elderly to remain at home, as the body governing tourism in Abu Dhabi shut nightclubs and bars

FILE PHOTO: A traveller wears a mask at the Dubai International Airport, after the UAE's Ministry of Health and Community Prevention confirmed the country's first case of coronavirus, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates January 29, 2020. REUTERS/Christopher Pike - RC2JPE94N0K9/File Photo
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Authorities have called on senior citizens to stay at home and avoid crowded places, as the UAE government ordered some federal employees to work remotely to stem the spread of Covid-19.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) said it was stepping up its efforts to ensure the safety of the public.

In a statement released on the news agency Wam, Mohap called on “all senior members of the public to remain at home and steer away from crowded places”.

The advice is part of a raft of measures introduced by the UAE, including the closure of schools across the country for a month, a ban on events and the shutdown of nightclubs in Abu Dhabi to prevent large gatherings, as per a circular issued by The Department of Culture and Tourism in the emirate on Friday.

It did not initially appear that bars were included in the order, but the popular venue McGettigans said on its Facebook page that it would close with immediate effect “in line with preventative measures for Coronavirus and under instruction from the Department of Culture and Tourism”.

Over the weekend, it was also announced that the UAE government would be implementing remote working for federal employees from Sunday March 15 up until Thursday, March 26, and that this was subject to renewal.

“Remote work is applicable for pregnant women, mothers of children in grade nine and below with duties that do not necessitate physical presence at workplace, people of determination, those with respiratory problems and weak immune system, and employees aged 60 and above,” said a statement on the government news service, Wam.

“Federal employees are expected to coordinate with their respective human resources department to ensure uninterrupted workflow.”

Coronavirus: What is a pandemic?

Coronavirus: What is a pandemic?

The rollout of remote working for some federal employees follows similar initiatives introduced by the governments of Abu Dhabi and Dubai last week.

On Friday, the UAE also announced the suspension of all flights to and from Italy, with the exception of Rome.

All passengers arriving from Rome International Airport are required to undergo preventative medical tests to ensure they are free of the virus.


"The decision to suspend flights was made after reviewing and analysing the current situation in Italy and was done in coordination with the concerned national authorities, including the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA), the Ministry of Health and Prevention and the UAE's national airline carriers, Etihad Airways and Emirates Airlines,” said the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) in a statement.

“NCEMA, and other concerned authorities, will continue to closely monitor the situation in Italy and will take appropriate preventative measures based on careful analysis of ongoing developments as necessary.”

The GCAA urged all passengers to contact airlines for updates on affected routes.