Dubai: The head of the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) said he is “not really concerned” about the Coronavirus outbreak spreading to the country as measures are in place to screen arriving passengers.
Saif Al Suwaidi, director-general of the GCAA, said the Authority has already issued precautionary instructions for local airlines, but might resort to reducing flights between the UAE and China, if the situation were to escalate.
“We are monitoring the situation in China, and we will modify our measures accordingly,” he said. “Most of the measures are about having thermal detectors at arrivals. If the case gets worse, we’ll have different measures that may include reducing flights, if necessary.”
Setting off global panic
The mysterious Coronavirus, which started affecting people in mainland China, has been spreading across various countries, infecting people in Hong Kong, Thailand, Australia, India, and Germany, among others. The death toll from the virus has so far crossed 100 people, with thousands of other cases being reported.
The outbreak has prompted authorities across the world, including in the UAE, to have thermal screening procedures at airports in order to detect if any passenger is infected. So much have the concerns about the virus become that even stock markets are taking a hit as many speculate that the Cornovirus may hurt the Chinese economy.
In the UAE, the Ministry of Health assured residents that the country is still free from the virus. Al Suwaidi said the Authority is part of a committee working under the Ministry of Health to manage the situation.
“I think China is a capable of containing the situation. We experienced similar situations in the past and they were eventually under control,” he said on the sidelines of a conference.
Al Suwaidi added that he did not expect fewer visitations from China to the UAE due to the virus, as the situation is “still under control”, and that he was happy with the measures implemented by China to control the virus.
China has already placed a number of its cities, including Wuhan where the outbreak started, under lockdown, which is already restricting the travel and movement of millions of people.