UAE Steps Up School COVID-19 Reporting

The Dubai Health Authority is requesting schools provide weekly updates on students, staff, and relatives or guests and visitors with "travel history" to China. Schools are also being asked to complete an online form...
This article is part of an editorial series on Covid-19
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This article is part of an editorial series on Covid-19

The UAE has stepped up its requirements from schools in terms of COVID-19 reporting, in a week the WHO warned the coronavirus may still develop into a global pandemic.

The Dubai Health Authority is now requesting schools provide weekly updates on students, staff, and relatives or guests and visitors with "travel history" to China. Schools are also being asked to complete an online form for students and staff that have recently travelled to the country, proposing to travel to it or who have had contact with a relative, guest or visitor who has recently returned from China.

On Monday Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain reported their first cases, all involving people who had come from Iran. Officials in Bahrain said the patient infected was a school bus driver. Several schools were closed as a result.

Tajikistan, Oman and Turkey have now suspended flights and travel to and from Iran, while the UAE banned its citizens from travelling to Iran and Thailand.

Iranian state media reported on Monday that 50 people had died of the disease in the city of Qom. This would make Iran the biggest victim of the disease, in terms of the number of deaths, outside China. However, while a lawmaker confirmed this figure, Iran's ministry of health insisted that only 12 had died.

Meanwhile the World Health Organization has said the world should do more to prepare for a possible coronavirus pandemic. Countries, it said, should be "in a phase of preparedness". Outbreaks in South Korea, Italy and Iran have all heightened concerns with worldwide stock markets seeing sharp falls because of the potential economic impact of the virus.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters on Monday that the number of new cases in recent days in Iran, Italy and South Korea was "deeply concerning".

However he added: "For the moment we are not witnessing the uncontained global spread of this virus and we are not witnessing large scale severe disease or deaths.

"Does this virus have pandemic potential? Absolutely, it has. Are we there yet? From our assessment, not yet."

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