Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 2 December 2020

UAE confirms two new cases of coronavirus bringing total to 13

An Iranian tourist and his wife are the latest to be diagnosed

Iraqi medics check travellers at the Shalamjah border crossing with Iran on Friday. The number of cases in Iran grew to 28 on Saturday, while the UAE health ministry confirmed two new cases were Iranian tourists. AFP
Iraqi medics check travellers at the Shalamjah border crossing with Iran on Friday. The number of cases in Iran grew to 28 on Saturday, while the UAE health ministry confirmed two new cases were Iranian tourists. AFP

The UAE's health ministry confirmed two new cases of coronavirus on Saturday, bringing the country's total to 13.

An Iranian tourist, 70 and his wife, 64, tested positive for the virus.

The man was in an "unstable" condition and in intensive care on Saturday, officials from the Ministry of Health and Prevention said.

On Friday night, two further cases were confirmed - a Philippines citizen, aged 34, and another from Bangladesh, aged 39 - by the health ministry. To date, three of the 13 patients have recovered and been released from hospital.

Emirati health officials said they continue to take all the necessary precautions "including check-ups and observation of the people who have been in contact with patients", state news agency Wam reported.

Iran, Italy and South Korea all reported additional deaths on Saturday, and Lebanon and Israel confirmed their first cases, leading to further alarm about the jump in infections outside China. Global health officials said the window of opportunity to prevent a pandemic is closing, as the official total topped 77,700 cases.

Iran had a fifth death and 10 more cases, bringing the total to 28, state television reported. The World Health Organisation said the situation in Iran is “very worrisome” because of the lack of any direct link to China. Cases in northern Italy climbed to 51, where two deaths led to the lockdown of a dozen towns.

South Korea on Saturday reported an eight-fold jump in viral infections in four days to 433, most of them linked to a church and a hospital in and around the south-eastern city of Cheongdo.

The country also reported its third death from the virus, a man in his 40s who was found dead at home and posthumously tested positive.

The Emirati embassy in Seoul urged travellers to take precautions and avoid crowds.

In Iran, health authorities reported a rise in cases throughout the weekend. Tehran suspended religious pilgrimmage trips to Iraq, after Iraq on Thursday issued a three-day ban on Iranians from crossing the border.

On Sunday and Monday, it will close schools and universities in Qom, the city where two people died from the virus, and shutdown education facilities for a week in Arak.

People are being treated for the virus in at least four different cities, including Tehran, where some pharmacies had already run out of masks and hand sanitiser.

Iranian health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour made Saturday’s announcement for the latest figures on state TV, but did not specify when the fifth death occurred. Two people had died earlier Friday from Covid-19, the official name for the illness caused by virus.

Minoo Mohraz, an Iranian health ministry official, had said on Friday that the virus “possibly came from Chinese workers who work in Qom and traveled to China.” She did not elaborate. A Chinese company has been building a solar power plant in Qom.

World Health Organisation officials have said that China’s crackdown on parts of the country bought time for the rest of the world to prepare for the new virus.

But as hot spots emerge around the globe, including in South Korea and Iran, there has been trouble finding the first patient who sparked each new cluster.

Qom is a popular religious destination and a centre of learning and religious studies for Shiite Muslims from inside Iran, as well as Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan and Azerbaijan.

Elsewhere in the region, Saudi Arabia announced that citizens and residents of the kingdom are not permitted to travel to Iran following the spread of the virus there. Anyone previously in Iran will only be permitted entry to the country after the 14-day incubation period of the virus has passed.

The decision, while not specifically mentioning Iranian nationals, directly impacts thousands of Iranians who travel to Makkah and Madinah for pilgrimages, effectively barring them from entry to Saudi Arabia.

The kingdom has already barred its citizens and residents from travel to China.

Timeline of coronavirus cases in the UAE

January 29

The UAE announces its first four cases of the new coronavirus in a family from Wuhan.

Authorities say they are stable and under close observation.

And officials are retracing the family's movements to identify people with whom they may have come into contact with.

The mother, father, nine-year-old girl and grandmother arrived in the Emirates on January 16 and first sought treatment on January 23 after the grandmother developed flu-like symptoms. All four family members subsequently developed the disease.

February 1

A fifth case is announced in the UAE, having been detected in a male patient from Wuhan. He is in a stable condition and receiving medical care, according to The Ministry of Health and Prevention.

February 2

Dr Hussein Al Rand, assistant undersecretary at the Ministry of Health and Prevention announces the family of the fifth case is clear of infection. The man remains in a stable condition in hospital.

February 8

Two new cases are confirmed in the UAE, bringing the total number of people in the country with the illness to seven.

They include a Filipino, who is the first non-Chinese person to test positive for the illness in the UAE. The other case is in a Chinese citizen.

February 9

Health authorities announce a Chinese woman becomes the first patient in the UAE to recover from coronavirus.

Liu Yujia, 73, contracted the virus in China, then travelled to the UAE, where she began to experience symptoms. She was among the first four cases who tested positive for the virus in the UAE.

February 10

The UAE announces its eighth case in an Indian national, who became ill after “interacting with a recently diagnosed person” according to the Ministry of Health and Prevention.

One coronavirus patient is in intensive care, with six in a stable condition, according to the Ministry.

February 14

Two more patients make a full recovery. The 41-year-old man and his son, who is eight, were among the first four cases detected in the UAE in late January. It is understood the fourth patient, the mother, remains under medical care.

This brings the total number of recovered patients in the UAE to three.

February 16

The UAE confirms its ninth case of the virus in a 37 year-old Chinese citizen. The patient is in a stable condition.

February 21

Two new cases of Covid-19 are confirmed in the UAE. They include someone from Bangladesh, 39, and the Philippines, 34.

February 22

An Iranian tourist, 70 and his wife, 64, test positive for the virus, with the man treated in intensive care.

Updated: February 22, 2020 08:10 PM

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