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Coronavirus 101: What’s Happening In Dubai

As the number of coronavirus(COVID-19) cases continue to rise, so does the impact on daily life for people across the globe. While it is disrupting businesses of all sectors in the regional and global economic scenario, one of the worst affected sectors is the travel industry. In times of uncertainty, the biggest question travellers are facing is whether to travel and if so which places are safe to go. Based on facts given by official sources and government bodies, here is an understanding of the current situation in one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

Coronavirus in Dubai

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As the total number of cases in UAE goes up to 98, local authorities have introduced a number of measures to limit the spread of the virus. Starting 17th March 2020, the UAE will temporarily suspend issuance of all visas with the exception of diplomatic passport holders. Enhanced medical screening measures have also been put in place that include enhanced medical screening on arrival along with a possibility of follow-up health measures and restrictions.  (Source: Government of Dubai official media account)

Travelling to Dubai right now

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According to a tweet from the Government of Dubai’s official media account, starting 15th March 2020, all theme parks, entertainment destinations including night clubs, bars, cinemas and concerts will suspend operations till the end of this month to control the virus outbreak. The emirate’s government media office also said that all the four major theme parks namely Motiongate Dubai, Legoland Dubai, Legoland Waterpark Dubai and Bollywood Parks Dubai would be temporarily suspended to ensure the safety of both employees and guests. Adding to the slew of announcements made by the local government, they have further suspended all flights to Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and Syria. (Source: Government of Dubai official media account)

The Indian government has also suspended all existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/international organisations, employment, project visas” until April 15 in an effort to self-quarantine itself. Starting 18th March, India has further extended its ban on arriving international passengers including Indian passport holders residing in the United Kingdom, Turkey and whole of Europe till the end of March. (Source: WHO).

Precautions to take while travelling

As per recommendations given by World Health Organisation(WHO), it is necessary for travellers who are sick, to delay or avoid travel to affected areas. General personal hygiene precautions and keeping a distance of one metre from persons showing symptoms remain important for travellers. Other recommendations include:

  • Performing hand hygiene frequently, particularly after contact with respiratory secretions. Hand hygiene includes either cleaning hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Covering your nose and mouth with a flexed elbow or paper tissue when coughing or sneezing and disposing immediately of the tissue and performing hand hygiene;
  • Refraining from touching mouth and nose;
  • A medical mask is not required if exhibiting no symptoms, as there is no evidence that wearing a mask of any type protects non-sick persons. If masks are to be worn, it is critical to follow best practices on how to wear,

Travellers returning from affected countries are advised to self-monitor for 14 days and follow local health protocols. (Source: WHO)

What next

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As local governments are issuing regular travel advisories based on the changing scenario, experts around the world have been asking travellers to monitor these closely to decide upon their future travel. With the after effects of this pandemic expected to last for another few months atleast, there is an obvious hesitation among travellers globally for planning future trips. However, many providers are trying to address these concerns by providing temporary relief on change or cancellation penalties. While the impending question of travel in the near future remains unanswered, while planning any trip, it is important to consider your own risk factors and the quality of healthcare available in the region in case of an emergency.

‘Curated by Neha Bhise’