Dubai: The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) on Tuesday announced 15 new cases of coronavirus in the UAE, taking the total tally of infections to 74. The new cases include three Italians, two Emiratis, two Sri Lankan, two Brits, two Indians, and one from Germany, one from South Africa, one from Tanzania, and one from Iran. There have been a total of 17 recoveries as of March 10.
We talked to residents about what precautions they were taking.
From cancelling travel plans to curbing social life, avoiding public places, UAE residents said they are doing all they can to stay clear of possible exposure to the virus.
Laura Holmes, 27, British, just gave birth to a baby girl, Sofia, last week. The new mother is taking all the precautions she can. “I am very nervous about visiting crowded places. So I am staying away from malls, shopping centres. I tend to stay [at] home a lot these days.”
In an interview with Gulf News, Holmes also said she prefers not using public transportation, including taxis. “I only travel in my husband’s car as an extra precaution.”
Holmes said she has set a rule in the house. Anyone visiting her baby has to sanitise their hands before touching the tiny tot. “These are just little changes I have been making. I don’t want to wrap my baby in a cocoon forever. But times are such that I have to take care.”
Alexandra Saikkonen-Williams, a British resident, said her son Jenson’s first birthday was a little bit of a damp squib thanks to coronavirus fears. “We were to have 20 children coming for the party, only nine turned up. I have not taken him to any malls ever since we have been hearing of coronavirus numbers rising.”
Williams has taken a break on trip with her son to public parks. He gets to play with a few friends in their garden backyard.
Williams and her husband, Tomi, could not avoid a trip to Vietnam recently. “It was my husband’s best friend’s wedding. We wore special masks throughout our trip.”
“Of course we did not take our son. But throughout the trip we were so nervous,” she added.
“We are caught between giving our son the exposure, but with times like this we have to ensure he is safe,” she said.
Filipino expat Debrie Dela Cruz, 32, said he doesn’t mind if he looks funny but he is wearing the mask all the time. “I may look ridiculous, but I don’t care. I want to stay safe.”
“My socialising come to a stand-still almost. I don’t attend events or parties unless it is really important. I am sometimes scared to even go to the church,” he added.
Cruz said he had scheduled a holiday to Phillippines but has cancelled it.
Italian expat Samantha Carletti’s responsibilities as a mother have risen tremendously following news of a rise in coronavirus numbers in the UAE. Her youngest child, a boy, 8 suffers from Pallister-Killian mosaic syndrome - a multi-system disorder. The syndrome is characterised by extremely weak muscle tone (hypotonia) in infancy and early childhood, intellectual disability, distinctive facial features, sparse hair, areas of unusual skin coloring (pigmentation), and other birth defects.
“He is at high risk of contracting the virus as his immunity is really low. He is being kept at home as it will be dangerous to take him out.”
Carletti said: “My son does not walk or talk. He is like a baby, touches and licks everything. He puts his hands in the mouth. We are avoiding all social life. We are not encouraging friends around him as a result. All we are doing now is praying the situation is under control.”
"But we are appreciative of the UAE government as our health care system is great," she added.
Sakina Feroz, 27, PR Manager, said since the virus outbreak she has had to make some major lifestyle changes when it comes hygiene, especially while visiting public places.
“I have cancelled over four major events in the past two weeks. January to April is usually a busy time in the public relations industry. But I have consciously avoided meetings and conducted most of my communication with people over the phone,” Feroz told Gulf News.
Feroz has started using alcohol-based hand sanitisers more frequently and drinking several cups of warm water throughout the day.
“At home, we have stocked up on some prescription medication, just in case.
“There has been a shift in a way people are dealing with this all round me, from my workplace to the gym. Hand sanitisers have been installed everywhere. My gym has encouraged everyone to clean their machines after use by providing antibacterial wet wipes. So everyone is doing as much as they can, and I feel like the community has got closer and more vigilant about themselves and people around them,” said Feroz.
Erum Suleman, 44, Pakistani, has not changed her life in a big way. She has not declined events, neither is she avoiding her training at the gym. My work life is on schedule. But yes, in my little way I am doing my bit to be careful. So Erum’s day is spread out between work, gym and then she heads home. On weekends she and her husband get out a little bit to a restaurant.
In her own little way she is doing her bit to ensure she takes enough precautions. “I use hand-sanitisers all day. At the gym I take a shower before my workout, take another one after am done too. Before touching any equipment as well, I make sure to clean them with wet wipes,” she said.
Erum said she is doing her best to take precautions, but at the same time she does not want to give up on her life-style completely.
“I don’t want to turn my life around. I don’t want to give up on everything. Right now I am just taking my precautions,” she explained.