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05 Apr 2020 | 11:26 AM UTC

UAE: Authorities lock down Dubai as of April 4 due to COVID-19 outbreak /update 21

Emirati officials impose two-week lockdown on Dubai as of April 4 due to COVID-19; 24-hour curfew in effect

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Event

At 20:00 (local time) on Saturday, April 4, a two-week lockdown came into effect in Dubai to prevent further spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). During this period, a 24-hour curfew will be in place across the emirate. As such, members of the public will be prohibited from leaving their homes except for essential needs, such as purchasing food or medicine, and only one family member will be permitted to go out at any one time. Supermarkets and pharmacies, as well as food and drug delivery services, will continue to operate as normal. Those working in vital sectors will be exempted from the restrictions. As of Tuesday, March 31, all permits required for essential travel during curfew hours have been canceled. The decision was made after the Ministry of Interior deemed it was no longer necessary given the public's adherence with the curfew. 

Additionally on Saturday, Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced that metro and tram service will be suspended during the lockdown. Free bus transportation and a 50 percent discount on taxi rides will be offered in lieu. 

An overnight curfew that remains in effect across the UAE's six other emirates has been extended indefinitely. As such, all movement between 20:00 and 06:00 (local time) is restricted, and public transportation is suspended during curfew hours. Those who leave their homes outside of curfew hours without legitimate or pre-approved reason will face fines of USD 544. Those violating the curfew could be fined up to USD 13,600.

Restrictions to movement have been implemented in Dubai's al-Ras as of Tuesday, March 31, for two weeks for disinfection to curb the COVID-19 spread. Those who do not reside in the area will not be permitted to travel there during this time. Media reports indicate that the Dubai Health Authority will provide all essential goods and supplies for residents in the area during that period.

To date, there are more than 1500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, with ten associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.

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 numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble 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

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.