The UAE is trying to ensure that no stone is left unturned in its fight against COVID 19. Closures, suspension or cancellation of big ticket events, e-learning, screening at religious spaces and tighter checks on entrants into the Emirates are just some of the measures announced by the government in the fight against the disease. The UAE has 21 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus as on March 2.
Precautionary measures in light of the COVID-19 outbreak are being taken by:
Airports in the UAE and GCC have implemented strict measures to screen passengers for the coronavirus through full non-intrusive thermal screening of passengers, with those coming from countries with high infection count screened twice.
Health Authority staff are at airports 24/7, conducting tests on the spot when needed. Hospitals in the Emirates are also prepared and on stand by to handle confirmed cases.
The UAE Ministry of Education has announced the launch of a distant learning (e-learning) pilot project in some public schools to contain the spread of the coronavirus and to fulfill the requirements of Emirati schools.
Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) has told all schools to increase and intensify cleaning procedures in order to safeguard schools.
The Ministry of Education has temporarily closed nurseries and kindergartens nationwide in the UAE for two weeks, starting Sunday, March 1. The Federal Authority for Government Human Resources (FAHR) has issued a circular granting flexible working hours to mothers working in UAE ministries and federal entities who have children in nurseries or kindergartens.
The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority in Abu Dhabi will inspect all nurseries to ensure that they are clean, sterilised, and meet safety conditions.
Religious institutions across the UAE are installing temperature scanners and hand sanitisers at the entrance to prayer halls and also dissuading mass gatherings. Several places of worship have gone the extra mile to ensure the safety of devotees:
- St Thomas Orthodox Cathedral cancelled its Sunday Bible classes for students for a month and suspended a key ritual it follows - The Kiss of Peace which involves devotees holding each other's hands. St Mary's Church in Dubai and St Michael's Chuch in Sharjah announced on Sunday that Holy Communion would no longer be given on the tongue as is customary.
- The courtyard and floors of the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia are being washed and sanitised four times daily even as religious pilgrimage to the kingdom has been suspended.
- Gurunanak Darbar in Jebel Al is installing temperature scanners at the gurudwara entrances and parking lot. An average of 2,000 people attend langar at the place of worship every day, and 15,000 people visit on weekends. Cleaning services of the kitchen, floors, toilets, and carpets at the facility will be done every two hours, hygiene being something the ISO-certified Gurudwara commits to, regardless of whether there is an outbreak or not.
- Sindhi Guru Darbar Hindu temple has restricted all mass gatherings, prayer meetings, sermons and Sindhi ceremonial events. Holi celebrations by various religious organisations and Indian associations have been called off.
Several big ticket events have been postponed while others have been cancelled:
- The final stages of the UAE Tour (cycling) was discontinued after two Italian staff members tested positive for the coronavirus.
- The DJ Mag Conference on electronic dance music was cancelled due to its Yas Island venue being quarantined as UAE Tour’s cyclists and staff were residing there.
- Abu Dhabi Creative Reader Festival has been put on hold until further notice.
- Yogafest Al Ain, Al Ain’s installment of the UAE’s popular Yogafest has been cancelled.
- The Big Ticket Abu Dhabi raffle draw has been closed to the public
- AKS Color Carnival, dubbed the ultimate Holi experience in the UAE, has been called off.
- Wings of Relief, a non-profit organisation's free breast cancer, and medical screening event at Ras Al Khaimah has been postponed.
Meanwhile the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, UAE has evacuated its citizens from the Islamic Republic of Iran in coordination with the National Emergency and Crisis Management Authority and the UAE embassy in Iran. All the returnees have been quarantined.