Passengers at Dubai International Airport. Picture for illustrative purpose only. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: International travellers from COVID-19-afflicted countries that have a high rate of transmission of the disease will be admitted and isolated in hospital until further tests, with or without fever, if they display even a few of the parameters of sickness form the list of Covid 19 symptoms in the UAE.

The new case definition of suspected COVID 19 cases by the Ministry of Health and Prevention sets updated protocols for all hospitals across UAE regardig admission and isolation of such patients.

The circular has been provided to all public and private hospitals in the UAE.

As per the new guidelines, any resident or interantional traveller coming to the UAE, displaying upper or lower respiratory symptoms, ‘with or without’ fever or even those displaying Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI), with no lab results that explain the illness, and even those who may have cared for a confirmed Covid-19 patient in the last 14 days, will be admitted and isolated.

10 countries

The passengers include those from the top countries that have reported local transmission of Covid-19 in the last 14 days as per the World Health Organisation (WHO). The list now includes 10 countries: China, Hong Kong, Italy, Iran, Japan, Germany, Singapore, France, Kuwait and Bahrain.

The countries of concern are being constantly updated on an ongoing basis as per the reports being received by WHO.

The circular further advises hospitals to apply standard contact and airborne precautions in such cases.

Staff collecting samples are advised to collect swabs from three sites - nasopharynx, oropharynx and sputum and/or broncho alveloar lavage (BAL) samples of patients with lower respiratory symptoms if available.

The samples have to be sent to the Latifa Hospital Virology Laboratory and until the results are provided, the patient has to be admitted in isolation.

The circular further lists symptoms that can be the cause for suspecting Covid infection. Even one of the symptoms manifested in the patient will be considered a good enough reason for admission and isolation.

Besides the obvious symptoms of fever, coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing, patients displaying early symptoms of chills, body aches, sore throat, headache, diarrhoea, nausea/vomiting or a runny nose, will be admitted and isolated as per Covid-19 protocol. SARI has been defined by the health ministry as an acute respiratory infection with history of fever that is above 38 degrees Celsius and cough that has an onset time of 10 days.

MOHAP has advised hospitals to follow these guidelines to admit and isolate patients mentioning that the parameters are subject to change as more information emerges.

The new guidelines issued by the ministry are designed to pre-empt a full blown infection and confine such individuals to prevent the transmission.

According to Dr Jacob Cherian, specialist intenal medicine at Medcare Clinic Marina and medical director of Medcare clinics, this step will be useful in early detection of cases where the virus is in gestation. “The incubation period of the virus is up to 14 days. In the earlier stages when there is no fever, the thermal camera may not be able to catch the infection. But now with the new guidelines even those displaying upper or lower respiratory track infection will have to be examined. This means anyone coming from the listed 10 countries with cough, cold, throat pain, sneezing or congestion will be taken in for further examination. This will further help UAE contain the transmission and also provide a better chance to these patients to recover.”

Coronavirus outbreak