UAE confirms first cases of new Chinese virus in Mideast

DUBAI (AP) — The United Arab Emirates (UAE) yesterday confirmed the first cases in the Mideast of the new Chinese virus that causes flu-like symptoms, saying doctors now were treating a family that had just come from a city at the epicentre of the outbreak.

The UAE’s state-run WAM news agency made the announcement citing the Health and Prevention Ministry, but offered no details on where the stricken family lived or where they were receiving treatment. It also did not offer a number of those afflicted by the virus, other than to say the cases came from “members of a family arriving from the Chinese city of Wuhan”.

It wasn’t immediately clear how the family left Wuhan and made it all the way to the UAE. China shut down Wuhan’s airport and other transportation in the city last Thursday to stop the spread of the virus. The lockdown has since expanded to include 17 cities with more than 50 million people in all.

Emirati officials are taking “all the necessary precautions in accordance with the scientific recommendations, conditions and standards approved by the World Health Organization (WHO),” the ministry said.

“The general health condition is not a cause for concern.”

Visitors and exhibitors wear masks at the Arab Health Exhibition in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. PHOTO: AP

State-run and government-supporting media in the UAE carefully announced the news yesterday, stressing that authorities said they had the situation under control.

At Arab Health, a major trade show happening this week in Dubai, a few Emiratis and others attending wore surgical masks while walking among the crowds.

The new type of coronavirus first appeared in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019.

It causes flu-like symptoms, such as cough and fever and in severe cases pneumonia, similar to many other illnesses.

It’s from the coronavirus family, which includes those that can cause the common cold as well as more serious illnesses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).