The Marina district in Dubai. Picture used for illustrative purposes only. File/photo
The coronavirus seems to be assuming gargantuan proportions, like the colossal monster Godzilla on the rampage, leaving its damaging footprint on various parts of the earth. It has severely impacted globally the trade industry, hit fashion and car shows, affected travel and tourism, curbed basic social interaction and outings – in short it has upturned normal life of people on a scale hitherto unthinkable – and unimaginable.
Despite public gatherings being a no-no in most nations, US President Donald Trump seems unperturbed, insisting that campaign rallies do not put his supporters at risk of catching or spreading the coronavirus. However, other nations are taking no chances.
Visibly perturbed by the malignant effects of the coronavirus, authorities in several countries around the globe, including the Middle East, are taking preventive steps – on a war footing. Even the UAE has made pre-emptive moves to stem the spread of the virus.
Major concerts and events in the UAE, an air transit centre as well as a tourism and business hub, have been cancelled or postponed as the coronavirus spreads in the Arabian Gulf.
The March 5-6 electronic music Ultra festival at Abu Dhabi's 25,000-capacity Du arena and the March 21 K-pop concert Music Bank at Dubai's 17,000-capacity Coca Cola Arena have been cancelled.
Organisers of Ultra, where electronic group Major Lazer and DJ Afrojack were to perform, cited travel restrictions imposed by some countries and airlines in the wake of the rapidly-spreading virus.
South Korea's national broadcaster KBS and crowdfunding platform Makestar, organisers of the K-pop concert, said Music Bank was cancelled because of the spread of the epidemic in South Korea and elsewhere.
The UAE regularly hosts major conferences, concerts and sporting events, a significant draw-card for foreign visitors.
The UAE central bank will reassess its forecast for economic growth in 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak, an official said on Tuesday.
According to Reuters, Emirates is asking staff to take unpaid leave for up to a month at a time due to the rapidly spreading coronavirus.
It has cancelled flights to Iran, Bahrain and to most of China.
A women's forum and yoga festival in Abu Dhabi and a carnival in Dubai for the popular Indian festival Holi, all in March, have also been cancelled or rescheduled.
Meanwhile, American rapper and producer Russ said his March 27 concert in Dubai will now take place in November because of the virus.
Dubai has postponed its March boat show until November and Abu Dhabi postponed the ITU World Triathlon event this month, after earlier cancelling a cycling tournament where two elite participants were diagnosed with the virus.
There have been at least 1,641 cases of the virus in the Gulf region, mostly in Iran where 66 people have died.
DoH urged the public to rely only on official sources when dealing with all news related to the novel virus.
All new cases are in a stable condition and are undergoing treatment, says ministry. The total number of cases in the country jumps to 468.
The evacuees will be received at the newly established Emirates Humanitarian City in the UAE, and will undergo medical testing and monitoring to ensure their health and safety.
Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s praise for a man who held up a royal portrait at a protest site in Bangkok has drawn controversy in Thailand, winning acclaim from monarchists and scorn from protesters.
Malaysia’s King Al-Sultan Abdullah will consult with other rulers to discuss proposals by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, the palace said on Saturday, after sources told Reuters the premier had asked the king to declare a state of emergency.
Italy’s Campania region, based on the southern city of Naples, said on Friday it would impose a lockdown to tame the coronavirus and urged the whole country to follow suit as new infections hit a record high.