Visitors and exhibitors wear masks at the Arab Health Exhibition in Dubai. Associated Press
With more than 3,215 people across the world dead and over 94,000 infected in 81 countries and territories, coronavirus (COVID-19) remains unstoppable and a serious threat to humanity.
The main countries affected include mainland China (80,270 cases, 2,981 deaths), South Korea (5,621 cases, 32 deaths), Italy (2,502 cases, 79 deaths) and Iran, (2,922 cases, 92 deaths).
The outbreak has also created market instability around the globe. Asian stock markets were mixed on Wednesday after Wall Street continued to zigzag, despite an interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve. Businesses of all types are experiencing pain as travel and tourism are spurned.
While the World Bank has unveiled a $12 billion aid package to help the world’s poorest nations with medical equipment or health services, a shortage of protective equipment is endangering health workers worldwide, and that’s a matter of huge concern.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has cited severe and mounting disruption to the global supply caused by rising demand, panic buying, hoarding and misuse and the global community needs to address this issue more vigorously.
In order to meet global demand for protective gear, the industry and governments should boost manufacture by at least 40 per cent.
Germany and Russia have already banned the export of protective medical gear such as masks and gloves to ensure their health workers have enough to deal with the outbreak.
Though WHO has so far stopped short of declaring a pandemic — defined as an epidemic that spreads throughout the world through local transmission — it would be prudent on the part of the global community to prepare for a potential pandemic, considering the speed and reach of the virus transmission.
The UAE, on its part, has been taking all the right measures to tackle the situation.
It is heartening that all authorities concerned in the UAE have joined forces to monitor the situation and prevent the further spread of coronavirus.
Nothing is left to chance. As part of the preventive and precautionary measures aimed at maintaining safety of students, the Ministry of Education has moved in the right direction by announcing a four-week closure of all public and private schools and higher education institutions across the UAE, starting Sunday.
The decision certainly comes as a proactive step that is consistent with the developments in the field of mitigating impacts of crises and natural disaster and out of keenness to provide highest standards of safety within the school and higher education communities.
The Ministry of Health and Prevention, MoHAP, has also assured that medical facilities have been equipped with all the necessary medical equipment and supplies to provide care and take all measures required to deal with COVID-19, including airborne infection isolation rooms, following WHO standards.
Members of the general public have a definite role to play and should adhere to preventative health and personal hygiene measures to prevent the spread of the epidemic.
As suggested by officials, basic protective measures should be followed such as the frequent washing of hands; when coughing and sneezing to cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue and discarding of the tissue immediately; and seeking early medical care if symptoms of fever, cough and difficulty in breathing arise.
The risks posed by the virus indicate that the coming days will remain challenging across all affected nations. People should be prepared for restrictions on everyday life in the affected areas.