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Tue 28 Jul 2009 10:41 AM

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UAE denies expats swine flu ban after holidays abroad

Reports that expats need certificate to prove no swine flu risk are 'completely untrue'.

Swine flu special report

The UAE Ministry of Health has strongly denied it will demand expatriates in the UAE on holiday abroad to produce a medical certificate proving they are not infected with swine flu before returning to the country.An unnamed source within the National Supervisory Committee for Combating Swine Flu had been quoted in a media report on Tuesday as saying that from August any person with swine flu symptoms without the certificate would be refused entry to the UAE .

But a senior health official has since quashed suggestions the government planned to take this action.

"The news about this issue is completely untrue," said Dr Ali bin Shuker, director of the Ministry of Health and Chairman of the Technical Health Committee for Combating Swine Flu, speaking later on Tuesday, in a report by WAM news agency.

He also denied suggestions, in the same report by UAE daily Gulf News, that shopping malls would be provided with thermal scanners to detect people with the virus.

"The idea was not even included on the agenda of the two committees," he said.

The National Supervisory Committee for Combating Swine Flu was committed to standards set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to fight the virus, he said.

He said the authorities were striving to implement a public awareness plan about the virus in cooperation with other government stakeholders including ministries of education and higher education and the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowment.

"The National Supervisory Committee for Combating Swine Flu is handling issues regarding this disease with transparency and clarity out of its keenness for the safety of the public," he said.

The committee kept the public informed about the latest developments on swine flu through weekly updates every Monday or interviews officials gave to TV, radio and other media outlets, he added.

The two committees are government organisations set up to fight the spread of the virus.

The Ministry of Health said on Monday that 11 patients with swine flu had been discharged from hospital after fully recovering from the virus.

Thirty five more swine flu patients were still receiving treatment in hospital, with their condition described as stable, it said.

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MD 11 years ago

Or will the immigration authorities ask for the medical certificate to be attested by the Embassy in the expats' country? What about those expats who are already on holiday and don't know about this new regulation? Can the National Committee for Combating Swine Flu shed more light on this? Don't want to have a situation where expats are stranded at airports across UAE upon landing here.

Ali 11 years ago

But the symptoms are tiredness, aching muscles and upset stomach – exactly how most people feel after flying (and eating) on a long-haul flight anyway. Plus, it seems pointless stopping one person who has it, if they’ve just spend up to 15 hours on a plane, with the same air circulating among up to 200 other people. Why is there no word from the government about supplies of medication and flu shots?

Ian 11 years ago

I doubt if any Doctor will provide the required papework - and if he/she did it wouldn't be worth anything as you could become infected the second after it was issued. Think again UAE Authorities.... scanning, recording seat numbers from flights, issuing advice leaflets, providing Tamiflu, are all do-able and sensible actions. Blanket bans on anyone who appears unwell are not the answer.

Someone traveling soon 11 years ago

Where are we supposed to get this certificate? From the UAE airport upon landing, or from last country of visit? In what format? How long ago should it be dated? We need some serious clarifications on this process. They can't simply mandate something with no structure. I looked at the MOH website, Dubai and Abu Dhabi Airport websites, and there is no information whatsoever! And the “National Committee for Combating Swine Flu” doesn’t even have a website! Can someone please advice!!

John 11 years ago

It's a bit late in the year for an April Fool's Joke isnt it? I cannot beleive that they would even release something as ridiculous as this. Perhaps its a new person in the organisation trying to make a name for themself? either case, be transparent in the requirements and dont come up with something that is absolutely impossible to obtain. Absolutely NO medical person would sign such a document. Swine Flu symptoms are EXACTLY like seasonal flu. The worrying thing is that at this time of the year there should not be this many flu infections, so 98% of people who show fly symptoms will be told they have swine flu because it is a reasonable assumption.

Aman ur Rahman 11 years ago

I agree with Ian. I think the announcement making it mandatory for all returning residents to carry a medical certificate has not been thought through. Most of those abroad will not know about this sudden requirement and getting a certificate from a medical authority does not seem practical as certificates from the average medical doctors can be purchased in India for tuppence.

PATEL; 11 years ago

EDUCATED PEOPLE MAKE RATIONAL DECISION NOT THOUGHTLESS HASTY ACTIONS

Edward 11 years ago

When is the UAE now going to think when they implement or communicate something. This is again another failure in the making. Simple highschool eduction would be enough to see that this rule cannot work. I applaud the motivation to stop swine-flue, but hey, come up with something that is intelligent and smart.

SB 11 years ago

Clearly another kneejerk reaction without considering the problems being faced by the visitors or expatriates

Dan 11 years ago

Yet another example of a unmanagable, badly put together rule - that will be retracted within days of actual implementation (if it even gets to that stage). C'mon Dubai - You are smarter than this.....