DUBAI: Dubai said on Tuesday it would help its state-run Emirates airline overcome the damaging impact of the coronavirus outbreak and enforced a full lockdown on a district famous for its gold and spice markets.
The UAE, the region’s tourism and business hub, has taken drastic measures to combat the spread of the virus including temporarily halting passenger flights and launching a nationwide disinfection drive.
It had already extended a nightly curfew to April 5 to deep clean the country, but Dubai announced late on Monday that a 24-hour curfew would be imposed on the normally bustling tourist and trade district of Al Ras for two weeks.
“I am glad they are doing this because it is for our protection,” said one rice trader who works in Al Ras but resides in the UAE’s Sharjah emirate. The trader, who declined to be named, told Reuters he is now conducting business online.
Dubai closed the main road entrances to Al Ras and halted public transport to the area, which abuts Dubai Creek, where dhows have been banned from shipping goods between Dubai and Iran, a regional epicentre for the virus. Authorities would provide residents with essential needs, the Dubai Media Office said.
The UAE has confirmed 611 coronavirus cases, with five deaths. It plans to open more drive-thru testing centres after the first was opened last week in the capital, Abu Dhabi.
“We will never hesitate to take any measures against any potential threat to people’s life. At the same time, we won’t let development grind to a halt,” Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the country’s de facto ruler, said in comments carried on state media.
Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed said the emirate’s government would inject fresh equity into the Emirates airline, considering its strategic importance to the Dubai and UAE economy.
The total number of infections in the six Gulf Arab states stands at more than 3,700, with 18 deaths.
In Kuwait, the first Gulf state to halt passenger flights and impose a partial curfew, the health minister said a clearer picture on the success of containment efforts would emerge by early June “If infection numbers stabilize, there may be a gradual easing of current measures,” Basil Al-Sabah told Al Rai newspaper. “But if the average rate of transmission increases then … I do not rule out the cabinet enforcing a full curfew.”
Kuwait recorded 23 new infections on Tuesday to take its total to 289. Saudi Arabia, has passed 1,400, with eight deaths.