UAE stops distribution of print publications to combat coronavirus spread

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The UAE’s National Media Council has decided to temporarily stop the distribution of all print newspapers, magazines and marketing material from Tuesday, March 24, 2020, in a move to combat the spread of the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, state news agency WAM reported.

The ruling comes as research suggests that the coronavirus is stable for up to three days on certain types of materials, and several hours in the air.

“The National Media Council has stressed that the daily newspapers in the country with their advanced digital infrastructure will continue to play their crucial role in publishing news stories and carrying discussions on issues of national importance across their multiple platforms,” WAM said.

The decision includes printed materials that are distributed in places where several people are likely to come in contact with the same product, and includes advertisements in residential areas, restaurants, hotels, health centres and clinics, waiting halls in public sector and private sector businesses. Publications approved by the health authorities are exempt from the ban.

Authorities in the UAE have increasingly put into place additional measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Last week, Dubai closed all hotel bars, pubs and lounges, in addition to previous suspensions of all theme parks, entertainment and wedding destinations, including night clubs, cinemas and concerts and all gyms, gaming centers, and spring camps. On Tuesday, restaurants were directed to close all open buffets and screen diners for flu-like symptoms.

The virus has so far infected 153 people in the UAE, with 38 recovered. On Saturday, the country reported its first deaths from the coronavirus, two men, a 78-year-old Arab and a 58-year-old Asian.

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