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24 Feb 2020 | 12:43 PM UTC

UAE: Citizens banned from travel to Iran, Thailand over COVID-19 concerns as of February 24 /update 3

Emirati citizens banned from travel to Iran and Thailand over coronavirus disease (COVID-19) concerns as of February 24, as number of confirmed cases increases to 13; further international spread of COVID-19 is to be expected over the coming days and weeks

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On Monday, February 24, the Emirati Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation issued a travel ban, calling on Emirati citizens to refrain from traveling to Iran and Thailand until further notice. Additionally, the Ministry of Health and Prevention has issued guidelines toward the treatment of COVID-19 cases, stating that travelers arriving from China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Iran, Japan, Singapore, and Italy within the last 28 days who are exhibiting signs of upper or lower respiratory infection, with or without fever symptoms, or who have come into contact with a person suspected of carrying COVID-19 are to be placed in isolation. The UAE has recorded 13 cases of COVID-19 infection as of Monday.

Further international spread of COVID-19 is to be expected over the coming days and weeks.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in more than 30 countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a "very grave threat."

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue; throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider
  • Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and your home government.

In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, individuals are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.