45 Covid-19 cases; 6,000 school buses sterilised

By Eudore R. Chand

ABU DHABI 8 March 2020: The total number of confirmed coronavirus, Covid-19 cases in the UAE stands at 45, including seven cases of fully recovered people, said a Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) official.

The UAE Tour quarantined contacts included 26 hotel visitors, 56 athletes and 236 hotel staff, said MoHAP Spokesperson Dr. Nada Al Marzouqi.

She confirmed that the UAE has enough strategic stocks of advanced medical tools and well equipped isolation rooms, as well as highly qualified medical teams who work around the clock, said Wam.

A joint media briefing was organised on Saturday by the Ministry of Health and Prevention, MoHAP, and the Ministry of Education, to detail preventive measures taken to tackle coronavirus, Covid-19.

During the briefing, MoHAP explained the measures taken to handle the cases of the coronavirus amongst the UAE Tour’s participants.

Dr. Amna Al Dhahak, Ministry of Education’s Assistant Under-secretary for School Activities Affairs, said the Ministry carried out a comprehensive programme to sterilise public and private schools and universities.

620 schools sterilised

To date, 620+ school buildings were completely sterilised, in addition to 6,000 school buses.

She also referred to the distance education system announced by the Ministry, saying that more than 168,000 started to benefit from the pilot programme, while 23,000 students from the Higher Colleges of Technology, Zayed University and the UAE University, completed the experimental programme.

Dr. Al Dhahak explained that in case students or parents are facing any challenges with the distance learning, they can ask for technical support at the toll-free number 80051115.

UAE announces recovery of two cases of Covid-19

Two Chinese patients of new coronavirus, Covid-19, have recovered, bringing to seven the total recovered cases in the UAE, MoHAP announced on Friday.

With the latest recovery announcement of the two patients, aged 38 and 10, all members of the Chinese family are ”free” from the disease, MoHAP affirmed in a statement.

The MoHAP also reported that 15 cases of different nationalities have tested positive for the virus, taking to 45 the total infections in the country.

According to MoHAP, early monitoring and reporting system has screened 13 Covid-19 cases for one individual each from Thailand, China, Morocco and India, two individuals each from Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Iran and three individuals from the UAE. All these cases arrived from abroad. Two cases, each from the UAE and Egypt, have been diagnosed with the virus by active surveillance system for being in close contact with confirmed cases announced previously in connection with the cycling event, the UAE Tour.

Five individuals in close contact with Covid-19 patients have also been screened, placed under health quarantine and subjected to preventive measures to curb the spread of the virus, the statement added.

All cases are being monitored round-the clock, are in a stable condition and are receiving all necessary health care required, MoHAP affirmed.

Collective Action

In the infection prevention and control measures, MoHAP also noted that all concerned authorities in the UAE have joined forces to monitor the situation and take rapid response to prevent the further spread of coronavirus since its outbreak in China.

MoHAP assured that medical facilities have been equipped with all the necessary medical equipment and supplies to provide care and take all measures required to deal with COVID-19, including thermal scanners and infection isolation rooms, following World Health Organisation, WHO, standards.

The Ministry advised the members of the general public to adhere to preventative health and personal hygiene protocols to prevent the spread of the disease and to read the awareness instructions, available on its website and the official websites of health authorities in the UAE and refrain from spreading rumours “The public is also advised to adopt protective health behaviour to avoid infectious diseases, including washing their hands with soap and clean water, and covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing to stop the spread of germs and viruses,” the statement added.

It also advised individuals suffering from respiratory symptoms to avoid crowded and public places to prevent transmission of the disease and protect lives.

Timely action commendable: Ahmed bin Saeed

H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, has thanked the UAE’s health authorities for their 24|7 commitment and efficiency in keeping the country’s travellers, communities and the cities safe during the new coronavirus, Covid-19, crisis.

Ahmed bin Saeed

H.H. Sheikh Ahmed said: “We are conscious that as a country, which is a global travel hub and has the world’s busiest international airport in Dubai, we have the responsibility of rolling out the world’s best in class health and safety measures.

“The health authorities have been working with international bodies and experts to ensure we educate our communities and travellers on precautions and hand hygiene. Our highly trained teams are working around the clock to offer the maximum levels of care to our communities, and are monitoring international travellers who are transiting through or arriving in the UAE. They continue to do a stellar job, and their efforts will help our country retain its status as a global travel hub,” he affirmed.

The World Health Organisation, WHO, has pegged the risk assessment of Covid-19 at the highest level, but is yet to declare it a pandemic. According to WHO, on 4th March, 119 countries have not detected any cases of the virus. Of the 75 countries with cases, 47 have 10 cases or less. This means travel continues to be safe as long as governments and people take the right actions and precautions.

Unobtrusive thermal screening

At Dubai International airport, every traveller goes through unobtrusive thermal screening. For travellers and crew who are arriving from counties of concern and COVID-19 hotspots, the health authorities conduct medical checks that include enhanced temperature checks and nose swabs. When they detect a positive case, they follow international guidelines and conduct additional tests, which in turn help to support and treat the person.

The dedicated medical teams at the airport try to complete the screening of passengers and crew of a flight within 40 minutes.

Emirates Airline has implemented enhanced disinfection procedures on all flights arriving to and departing from Dubai. The airline’s operational teams are using stronger, approved chemicals and materials, and using deeper cleaning techniques to thoroughly disinfect aircraft cabins. All aircraft have High Efficiency Particulate Air, HEPA, filters, which are proven to remove more than 99 percent of viruses in the cabin environment.

The precautions and measures rolled out by the health authorities are continuing to make air travel safe for local communities, international travellers and employees.

Sheikh Ahmed concluded: “The UAE has lived through some of the world’s worst times – whether pandemics, natural disasters or recessions – and has always emerged stronger, fitter and better. I am confident it will be no different this time around. We remain vigilant. The UAE stands together as one.”

Health centre to monitor Wuhan evacuees

The UAE has announced the establishment of a preventative health centre within the Emirates Humanitarian City complex, to provide 24-hour health care for Arab students and residents evacuated from Wuhan, China – the epicentre of the coronavirus, Covid-19, outbreak.

Joint humanitarian efforts saw the completion of the project within 48 hours since the UAE’s announcement of evacuating students from neighbouring countries from the city of Wuhan on Wednesday. Run by qualified and trained medical teams, the centre is equipped with the necessary medical equipment and supplies to provide care and handle Covid-19, including airborne infection isolation rooms.

Dr. Musleh Al Ahbabi, an official responsible for infectious diseases and public health care programmes in the country, confirmed to Wam, the centre’s readiness to monitor and carry out preventive care to reduce the general risk of transmission of acute respiratory infections disease according to World Health Organisation standards and practices.

Al Ahbabi explained that airborne infection isolation rooms, commonly called negative pressure rooms, are single-occupancy patient care spaces designed to isolate airborne pathogens to a safe containment area. Individuals who may be suspected of carrying the new coronavirus will be placed within these rooms for a period of 14 days – the average incubation period of Covid-19 – where they will be monitored and tested for infection, he noted.

The disease prevention official advised to practice basic protective measures such as the frequent washing of hands; when coughing and sneezing to cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue and discarding of the tissue immediately; and to seek early medical care if symptoms of fever, cough and difficulty in breathing arise.

Al Ahbabi stressed the importance of receiving viable and correct information from government health agencies, and to avoid the circulation of false information about diseases, in general.