Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 30 October 2020

UAE 'completely free' of coronavirus that has killed 17 people and sickened more than 550 in China

The National Committee for International Health Regulations and the Control of Pandemics said procedures were in place to deal with any possible outbreak here

The UAE is “completely free” of a coronavirus that has killed at least 17 people in China.

In a statement released on Wam, the UAE’s news agency, the National Committee for International Health Regulations and the Control of Pandemics said procedures are in place to deal with any possible outbreak here.

On Wednesday, health authorities in the US revealed a man from Washington State had developed symptoms after travelling to Wuhan in China.

Cases were also reported in Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

Official figures suggest it has infected more than 550 people in China since the first case was discovered only three weeks ago in Wuhan. But experts at Imperial College London who specialise in in forecasting the spread of infectious diseases believe the numbers could be much higher – possibly even up to 4,000.

"The UAE has an effective integrated system and plans for emergency and crisis to address public health risks and the country is in constant touch with the World Health Organisation, WHO, to find out the latest updates, recommendations and procedures taken in this matter," the National Committee for International Health Regulations and the Control of Pandemics said.

"The health situation pose no grounds for concern and the ministry is closely following up on the situation to ensure the health and safety of everyone.”

The committee added that the cases which have occurred outside of China are still “limited in spread, compared to other types of epidemics”.

It said authorities in the UAE were in “constant touch” with WHO to keep abreast of any new developments or procedures issued in the wake of the outbreak.

This week in the UAE, the Ministry of Health and Prevention said authorities of entry were “on standby” at all ports, and were ready with the necessary monitoring measures in place to project against any health pandemic.

Hospitals across the UAE have said they are also preparing to identify and treat any coronavirus cases among people who have recently travelled to high-risk regions.

The virus, which is believed to have originated from sick animals at a local food market, possibly snakes, can now be passed from person to person.

There are seven known coronaviruses.

Sars, which killed almost 800 people from 2002 to 2003, and Mers, which kills about 35 per cent of people it infects, are the most severe, causing serious lung infections. The others are mild, resulting in symptoms more akin to a common cold. It is not yet clear how deadly the Wuhan coronavirus is. There could be many infected who show only mild symptoms.

The main symptoms are fever, followed by difficulty breathing. It is thought the infection causes air sacs in the lungs to become inflamed and fill with pus or fluid.

Updated: January 23, 2020 03:14 PM

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