Coronavirus: Dubai health officials urge public to avoid 'panic mode'

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Health officials in Dubai have urged residents not to go into "panic mode" over the spread of coronavirus.

Six more cases of Covid-19, were announced by the UAE on Tuesday, taking the total number of positive tests in the country to 27.

Nurseries, schools and universities have temporarily closed their doors as a precautionary measure, while a number of public gatherings, such as live concerts, have been postponed.

Medical professionals at Dubai Health Authority spoke to The National to pledge that everything possible was being done to contain the virus.

My advice to the community is to avoid getting into panic mode

Dr Abdulla Al Rasasi

Dr Abdulla Al Rasasi, head of preventive medicine in the DHA Public Health Protection Department, said medics were working around the clock to guard against Covid-19, and treat suspected carriers arriving in Dubai.

“My advice to the community is to avoid getting into panic mode,” he said.

“We have medical teams at Dubai airports and these teams are present 24/7.

“If you greet someone with respiratory symptoms, do not touch their hands or hug them.

“If you don’t have access to soap and water, use a hand sanitiser.”

Self-isolation in the family home for anyone who has travelled to a virus hotspot and is showing symptoms is the most effective way to prevent further outbreak, officials said.

Health authorities should be called first before visiting a medical facility for treatment to reduce the risk of infecting others who may already be ill and more vulnerable to symptoms.

Airport authorities are carrying out non-intrusive thermal screening for all passengers on-arrival in Dubai.

Passengers from countries with a high infection rate, such as China, Iran, Italy and South Korea, are screened twice for the virus.

Dr Al Rasasi said only those most at risk from severe symptoms who have travelled to an area where coronavirus cases have been recorded within two weeks, or have been in contact with someone who has, should be tested if they display symptoms.

Physics teacher Regina O'Dwyer demonstrates how Dubai College's remote learning system works. Using Microsoft 365 and Cisco Webex - a Skype-style conference call tool - she can take pupils through live lessons as they sit at home. Victor Besa / The National

Instead of returning to school after the spring break, pupils will login from home for two weeks and watch teachers at Dubai College for each lesson. The school will remain empty except for teachers. Victor Besa / The National

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Labourers unloading medical equipment and coronavirus testing kits provided by the World Health Organisation, from a UAE military transport plane upon their arrival in Iran. AFP

Tonnes of medical equipment and coronavirus testing kits provided by the World Health Organisation are pictured at the Al Maktoum International airport in Dubai as it is prepared to be delivered to Iran by a UAE plane. AFP

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Lebanese workers spray disinfectant in classrooms and halls of a school in the coastal town of Rmeileh, 35km south of the capital Beirut in an effort to prevent a novel coronavirus outbreak in the country. AFP

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Chinese President Xi Jinping learning about the progress on the vaccine and anti-body during his visit to the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in Beijing, capital of China. EPA

“Not everyone with a cold or upper respiratory symptoms need to get tested,” he said.

“People who are required to undergo a screening are those with upper or lower respiratory symptoms, with or without fever.

“We will want to screen anyone with a severe acute respiratory infection without an alternative explanatory diagnosis such as a flu.

“Reducing the risk of infecting others begins at home.”

The first or immediate step is to isolate yourself from family members, request them to buy a mask for you and then go to the nearest medical centre.

People can go to either DHA or private hospitals or health centres in Dubai after first notifying the clinic.

Once there, suspected carriers will be kept in isolation until the results of a nasal swab are returned.

If it is positive, the patient will receive further medical care.

If the test is negative, the person should follow home isolation protocols for 14 days from the date of travel in the UAE, or from the last date of contact with a positive case.

Face masks should only be worn by those already showing symptoms in order to reduce the spread of germs through coughing and sneezing.

Masks should not be used by otherwise healthy people as a protective measure.

Regular hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is recommended as best practice to maintain good hygiene.

Coronavirus outbreak

Recovery time from those with Covid-9 depends on the strength of their immune system.

There is no current vaccine for the virus, but medics can treat the symptoms in a similar way to seasonal flu.

“People with a flu should always follow certain precautions to avoid the spread of the disease,” said Dr Hend Al Awadhi, head of DHA health promotion and education.

“Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, correctly dispose of tissues and hand-hygiene is particularly important.

“If you are sick, stay indoors, stay at home and get the rest you need.

“If you fall under the category that requires Covid-19 testing, take all necessary steps to prevent the spread of infection and go to the nearest healthcare centre.”

To report suspected cases ahead of a hospital visit, call the DHA call centre on 800 342, the Department of Health Estijaba service on 8001717 or the Ministry of Health and Prevention on 80011111.

Updated: March 4, 2020 02:18 PM

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