Coronavirus is now a pandemic: UAE stops issuing tourist visas
The World Health Organisation has officially declared Coronavirus (Covid-19) a pandemic, in an official statement on March 11. They've also emphasised the use of the word "pandemic" and that it is not to be taken lightly.
The WHO said that the number of cases outside China had risen 13-fold, while the number of affected countries tripled in the past two weeks. There are more than 118,000 reported cases in 114 countries, with at least 4,291 deaths.
UAE stops tourist visas from March 17:
In an unprecedented move, the UAE Federal Authority has said that it will temporarily suspend the issuance of tourist visas from March 17. Only holders of diplomatic passports will be allowed in.
The move will be effective from March 17 but does not apply to anyone who has already been granted a visa before that date.
In a statement carried by state news agency WAM, the Federal Authority For Identity and Citizenship said the move was taken as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of coronavirus and is in response to the World Health Organisation declaring the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Dubai, Abu Dhabi close major tourist attractions from today
Dubai and Abu Dhabi have temporarily announced plans to close its main tourist attractions, theme parks and cultural destinations from Sunday, March 15 until the end of the month as a precautionary measure to limit large gatherings in response to Covid-19.
The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi said closed cultural sites will include Louvre Abu Dhabi, Manarat Al Saadiyat, Qasr Al Hosn, Culture Foundation, Al Ain Palace Museum, Al Ain Oasis, Al Jahili Fort and Qasr Al Muwaiji.
Qasr Al Watan Tour, Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi will also be affected by the closure order.
Advisory notices will be updated regularly by visitor destinations across the emirate and the public is advised to check with each site directly for the latest information.
Here's the WHO statement in its entirety:
In the past two weeks, the number of cases of COVID-19 outside China has increased 13-fold, and the number of affected countries has tripled.
There are now more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 people have lost their lives.
Thousands more are fighting for their lives in hospitals.
In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher.
WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.
We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.
Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death.
Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this virus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do.
We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus. This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus.
And we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled, at the same time.
WHO has been in full response mode since we were notified of the first cases.
And we have called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action.
We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear.
However, there's no need to panic. The UAE government and health ministry has the current situation well in hand.
People returning to the UAE from these countries must self-isolate for 14 days
The UAE government has also issued a statement saying all passengers returning from countries with an outbreak would be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine at home.
The ‘Countries of Concern’ are China, Hong Kong, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan, Germany, Singapore and France.
Screenings at airports and malls
Passengers arriving at Dubai International Airport are being screened with non-intrusive thermal imaging technology as part of precautionary measures taken during the ongoing coronavirus epidemic.
Those returning for Covid-19 outbreak areas are also subject to nasal swaps and temperature tests.
24/7 Covid-19 helpline launched in Dubai
All Dubai residents can now contact Dubai Health Authority (DHA) doctors via video and voice calls for free 24/7 consultation and queries regarding Covid-19. The DHA said on Wednesday it is providing this service through its Doctor for Every Citizen initiative, which was launched in December.
The initiative, which initially provided family medicine consultations for Emiratis, will now provide free consultation to all Dubai Residents for Covid-19.
Abu Dhabi announces shisha ban in 'tourism establishments'
After Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Abu Dhabi has now banned serving shisha in “tourism establishments” in the emirate.
In a circular sent by the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) instructed all tourism establishments to “refrain from serving shisha in all areas and facilities”.
Arabian Business also reports that it was addressed to general managers of tourism and hotel establishments in the emirate, and the circular said the ban would start with immediate effect and DCT teams will be carrying out inspection visits to make sure businesses are adhering to the new regulations.