Arabian Gulf countries taking precautionary measures to contain coronavirus
Countries in the Arabian Gulf have begun taking precautionary measures to ensure the spread of the deadly coronavirus in the region is contained, and are cooperating with Chinese authorities to help maintain the virus.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait announced they will be screening all passengers arriving on flights from Chinese cities for the virus, also known as corona.
The spokesperson for the Embassy of China in Saudi Arabia Feng Kai told Al Arabiya English that China has been cooperating with countries across the world to prevent the outbreak from spreading further.
“From the very beginning, the Chinese side has attached great importance to international cooperation in public health,” Kai said. “Based on the principle of openness and transparency, we informed all parties of the epidemic situation in time and shared the genetic sequence of the novel coronavirus.”
The virus, which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has killed 212 people and infected just under 10,000 people so far, mostly in China. Countries with confirmed cases include China, the US, the UAE, Canada, South Korea, France, Germany, Vietnam, India, and Japan among others.
There have been no recorded cases of the deadly coronavirus in Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom’s Minister of Health Tawfiq al-Rabiah said in a statement.
The Kingdom began screening passengers arriving on direct and non-direct flights from China on Sunday, the minister added.
Saudi Arabia has called for its citizens in Wuhan to prepare to evacuate, the Kingdom’s embassy said via its Twitter account.
“The staff at the [airport] clinics are inspecting all passengers arriving from China and measuring their vitals,” the statement said.
The minister also provided prevention tips to citizens and residents in the Kingdom, encouraging them to maintain hygienic practices, such as washing their hands and avoiding contact with symptomatic people.
The four people who were confirmed to have the virus in the UAE are currently in “stable conditions” and will be released in 14 days, Dr. Hussein al-Rand, an assistant undersecretary at the UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention, told Al Arabiya English.
Despite confirmation of the first case of coronavirus in the country, al-Rand said that there is “nothing to worry about” and that the UAE is following the recommendations of the World Health Organization to contain it from spreading.
All travelers coming to the country’s airports from China and countries where the virus has been detected are being screened, al-Rand added.
The country has launched numerous social media and TV campaigns in the past two days to raise awareness on the coronavirus and its prevention.
Kuwait asked its citizens to refrain from traveling to China as the number of reported deaths from the coronavirus reached 212, the country’s ambassador to China said in a statement on Wednesday.
The country’s airports have also begun screening passengers on flights from China, according to Kuwait News Agency.
However, Kuwaiti residents told Al Arabiya English that the lethal virus will not deter them from making travel plans to countries where the virus has not spread as widely as it has in China.
One Kuwaiti woman, who visits Dubai at least twice a year, told Al Arabiya English that the news of the virus, did not stop her from traveling to Dubai on January 29.
“I was a little worried about the virus being in the UAE, but not enough to cancel my trip. It seems like it’s under control if you stay sanitized and take care of general hygiene,” Kuwaiti citizen Fatma al-Raiss said.
Another Kuwaiti citizen, Ahmad al-Qattan told Al Arabiya English that he was wary about the virus, but not worried. He added that the coronavirus has not deterred him and his friends from planning trips to countries where the virus was found.
“I am not worried whatsoever” Sara Diab, who travels frequently for work, told Al Arabiya English. “Every other year there’s some new virus when it is just like any other flu. So I’m definitely not worried, and I haven’t felt that people around me are either.”
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