UAE schools and higher education institutions close for four weeks amid COVID-19 spread

From Sunday, March 8, all schools and higher education institutions in the UAE will close for four weeks as a precautionary measure against the spread of the novel coronavirus, the UAE Ministry of Education announced. 

Institutes of higher education and schools in the UAE were to have a spring break for 3 weeks which was due to begin on March 15. This has now been revised to March 8 and will last for four weeks instead. Students will attend classes virtually through a distance learning initiative during the break.

The ministry tweeted that this was in the best interest of the health and safety of students and the wider education community at schools and universities.

The announcement was made even as six new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the country, bringing the total number of cases to 27 as of March 3.

The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention announced that the six new cases, which include two Russians, two Italians, one German and one Colombian – are all connected to the UAE Tour cycling event which was cancelled.

Earlier in the day, the UAE Cabinet reviewed procedures and plans to prevent the COVID-19 spread in the country and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who chaired the Cabinet meeting, was briefed on the latest developments and preventive measures taken by all national authorities to protect the community from the virus.

Meanwhile the UAE Shariah Ifta Council issued a fatwa saying it is prohibited for anyone suspected to be COVID-19 positive to show up or mix with people in public places. The council urged people to remain home and not attend congregational prayers, Friday sermons or Eid prayers.