Abu Dhabi: The UAE is setting up a new medical facility to accommodate those affected by coronavirus in case of a global emergency, the UAE health minister announced on Wednesday.
Addressing a media briefing, organised by the National Crisis and Emergency Committee in Abu Dhabi, Abdul Rahman Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, said, “Thanks to the UAE’s wise leadership, the authorities responsible for the health sector have completed all the technical, medical and logistical preparations required to set up the medical facility far away from residential areas so that the affected can be accommodated in isolation and treatment provided.”
“The medical area will have all equipment and staff capable of dealing with any number of cases throughout the period of medical isolation that takes about 14 days,” he added.
No need to panic
The health minister urged residents not to panic about the potential spread of COVID-19 in the UAE, saying the country has “well-established procedures in place to deal with suspected cases”.
“Don’t be paranoid, don’t be scared. We are well-prepared and we are ready. We are with everybody in case of an emergency,” he assured.
Al Owais said, “The problem with coronavirus is the way the news is spreading. We are connected globally through electronic means and social media in a way we have never been before... The UAE is well-prepared and equipped for the worst-case scenario as the virus continues to gain a foothold in the region.”
154 close contacts screened
The minister said close contacts of infected individuals are being monitored for signs of developing the illness. As many as 154 such contacts had been tested so far, and all but one of them had tested negative.
The minister said the UAE is closely monitoring the spread of the virus in other countries such as Iran, Italy and Korea and airports and other relevant authorities have been instructed to do a complete surveillance of people entering the country.
The minister said effective preventive measures are also in place.
“We assure members of the community that we are taking all adequate preventive measures,” he said, adding that people should go about their normal lives while following hygiene protocols of the Health Ministry and WHO.
“In cooperation with key partners, we follow a very effective epidemiological monitoring mechanism - in accordance with the highest global practices and based on WHO standards - to respond to any health emergencies,” the minister said.
The minister said COVID-19 is less deadly than SARS and MERS, with its mortality rate being 2.5 per cent.
Al-Owais said, “This percentage does not yet constitute a global threat, especially if we know that the number of people who die annually due to the regular flu reaches about 300,000 annually.”