By Gavin Gibbon
UAE's Ministry of Health and Prevention awareness campaigns stepped up at entry points to the country
The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has confirmed that the UAE is completely free of the coronavirus.
More than 570 people have been infected with the virus across China - with most cases found in Wuhan, where a seafood market that illegally sold wild animals has been identified as the epicentre of the outbreak.
The first case of the new virus was confirmed on December 31, and it has since been detected in Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and the United States.
While no cases have been detected in the UAE, the National Committee for International Health Regulations and the Control of Pandemics has called on precautionary measures at the country’s entry points to be reviewed to avoid the spread of disease.
Awareness leaflets, in various different languages, will also be distributed to people coming into the country.
At a meeting on Wednesday between the Ministry of Health, Dubai Health Authority (DHA), Department of Health-Abu Dhabi, the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, NCEMA, the General Authority of Ports, Borders and Free Zones Security, UAE Airports and relevant strategic partners, it was agreed to set up a national media committee to carry out awareness campaigns in the UAE.
The situation will also be heavily monitored amid constant dialogue with the World Health Organisation.
A statement said: “The committee would like to reassure the public that the detected cases all around the world are still limited in spread, compared the other types of epidemics,” adding that “the health situation poses no grounds for concern and that the ministry is closely following up on the situation to endure health and safety of everyone.”
The coronavirus has caused alarm because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.
Like SARS, it can be passed among people through the respiratory tract.
A spokesperson for Etihad Airways said: “Etihad works closely with the UAE and international health authorities at all times, and our response to specific issues is based on their expert guidance. Etihad treats the health and well-being of its guests and staff as its top priority.”