On Sunday, March 22, Emirati authorities announced a suspension on all passenger and transit flights in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for two weeks to limit the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The suspension will take effect in 48 hours and will not apply to cargo and emergency evacuation flights.
Strict entry requirements remain in place for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as of Saturday. All foreign travelers are prohibited from entering the country and a two week ban on UAE and GCC citizens (excluding citizens from Qatar) from entry came into effect at 14:00 (local time) on Thursday, March 19. The restrictions on UAE citizens may be expanded after the initial two-week period.
Meanwhile, Emirates reversed its earlier decision on Monday, March 23, to suspend all passenger flights with effect from Wednesday, March 25. The airline later clarified that passenger and cargo flights to the UK, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, US and Canada will continue to operate until further notice as long as borders remain open.
As of Saturday, March 21, 153 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the country. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
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.
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.