On Thursday 5th Match, the Ministry of Health called on citizens and residents to avoid travelling due to the current situation of the coronavirus outbreak and its spread in several countries.
It said in its statement revealed that if travel is a must, preventive measures will be taken upon their return to the country.
Measures taken will be in the form of medical checks at the airport and then home quarantine if the traveller is showing signs of illness. In case of actual infection with the virus, procedures will be applied for sanitary isolation in health facilities.
For students and school staff however, measures may be stricter.
The latest tweet from the Ministry of Education, sent late afternoon on Thursday 5th April, suggests a 14 day period of quarantine for students and school staff, no matter where they have been, to ensure they are healthy before they return to school.
In a letter sent to principals by the KHDA, Dubai's education regulator, late on Thursday 5th March, principals were instructed to request students and staff do NOT travel during this period. It said:
- It is strongly advised that all members of private school staff whether they are students, teachers, administrators, or workers do not travel outside the country during this period.
- All private school Principals must notify all staff members of this instruction and inform them that they will potentially be subject to a 14-day quarantine period and other relevant procedures upon their return from any of the countries specified by the relevant authorities.
- All schools should ensure that students remain within the UAE during the period allocated to distance learning (22nd March – 2 nd April). Schools must ensure that appropriate online safety measures are embedded into their programs.
- School Principals should provide parents with all of the above information to ensure that parents understand their responsibilities and the potential implications should they decide to travel.
Any returning residents, irrespective of whether they are students or staff, can expect tests at the airport and, depending on their travel history, period of isolation at home. Tourists from a range of countries, including high-risk outbreak areas, can also expect checks.
State news agency Wam reported:
"The Ministry of Health said if a person does travel, there will be preventative measures at the point of re-entry into the country, depending on the assessment of the concerned authorities, which includes medical tests at the airport, and keeping people in isolation at home until being assured of the patient's safety.
"In case of carrying the coronavirus, then there will be isolation at medical facilities and that is to ensure the safety of the patient and avoid mixing with others."
Basic tests involve walking past thermal scanners, which allow medical officials to spot raised body temperature, potentially caused by fever. Some airports use handheld temperature scanners placed on a passenger's forehead, which works in the same way and takes moments.
Those found with high temperatures may be subject to a nasal swab, which is then placed into a solution. It takes a few minutes and determines whether the person has signs of illness - without formally confirming diagnosis.
Any travellers who test positive would be taken to a medical facility and monitored.
The Ministry of Health and Prevention on Thursday announced it had confirmed a new case of coronavirus in the UAE, a 17-year old student. The 17-year old male Emirati showed no symptoms, the ministry said in a statement.