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Wed 18 Mar 2020 08:51 PM

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'Health will not be compromised', says Expo 2020 Dubai chief

Preparations for Expo 2020 Dubai are continuing with detailed operation plans being finalised as organisers convene virtual meeting to discuss Covid-19 crisis

'Health will not be compromised', says Expo 2020 Dubai chief

Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and director general, Expo 2020 Dubai

Preparations for Expo 2020 Dubai are continuing with detailed operation plans being finalised as organisers face up to the challenge posed by the new coronavirus outbreak.

Expo 2020 Dubai convened on Wednesday a virtual steering committee meeting of representatives of the countries taking part in Expo 2020 to consult on the impact that Covid-19 is having on the run-up to the mega event which is due to open in October.

The group will reconvene in the coming weeks to re-assess the situation and plan accordingly, a statement said.

The UAE has so far reported a total of 113 coronavirus cases.

Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and director general, Expo 2020 Dubai said the immediate priority is the health and wellbeing of everyone involved in Expo 2020 Dubai, adding that "this will not be compromised".

"Our monitoring of ongoing developments means we will take all sensible precautions to manage and mitigate risk to all those involved,” she said.

Al Hashimy added that the UAE has taken a range of robust, precautionary measures to control the spread of Covid-19, and Expo 2020 has fully applied the latest guidance from the Dubai Health Authority, the Ministry of Health and Prevention, the World Health Organisation and other relevant bodies.

She said: “As hosts of the next World Expo, due to open in seven months’ time, we always knew that 2020 was going to be demanding. What we could not predict is that we would be doing so in the midst of the biggest global health crisis in generations.

"These are difficult, uncertain times, which makes it even more heartening to see communities around the world facing this challenge together and to witness the incredible resilience of the human spirit against a menace that does not recognise international borders or timelines. World Expos are intended to be celebrations of our collective endeavour and achievement as humanity, and these times call for our solidarity and unity more than ever.

“This discussion with participants today was an opportunity to reassure them on the measures that we have put into place in the UAE, to listen to their issues, and to look for ways that we can provide tangible, meaningful support at this difficult time, in the spirit of openness, collaboration and partnership that are at the heart of Expo 2020 Dubai.”

Dimitri Kerkentzes, secretary general of the Bureau International des Expositions welcomed Expo 2020 Dubai’s initiative.

“The gravity of the situation and the impact that it is having in countries around the world cannot be ignored... Putting on a World Expo, against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic requires a global effort from the 192 countries taking part in Expo 2020 Dubai," he said.

"We continue working with the organisers and are confident in the steps that the UAE has taken to manage the spread of the virus and protect all those involved in the Expo. Expo 2020 Dubai’s pragmatic approach offers both reassurance and assistance to those who need it, and will, I believe, contribute to the successful delivery of this mega event.”

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