Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 8 April 2020

To combat the coronavirus, stay at home – it is the responsible thing to do

In these unprecedented times, we all have to play our part and not infect anyone

As countries in Europe and around the world go into lockdown, with millions self-isolating to battle the spread of coronavirus, the UAE is putting in place judicious, well-advised measures to contain the pandemic. A vital step in reducing risk has been the instruction to the public to stay at home. In these extraordinary times, it is at once the most straightforward and radical step to avoid posing a threat to ourselves, our communities and the most vulnerable – senior citizens and children.

Global deaths caused by the coronavirus have now passed the 10,000 mark. Spain has become the fourth country to report more than 1,000 fatalities. In the UAE, sadly, we have lost two lives. The victims, who were aged 58 and 78, had underlying health conditions. Providing reassurance during this bleak period, the UAE leadership has stressed the need for calm and precaution.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, said: “I ask you all to arm yourselves with positivity and optimism in the face of all challenges. Challenges are opportunities for success. Our fathers and forefathers faced many challenges with patience, hope and optimism. Let us today take their lead and make their attitudes our example.” Considering the severity of the challenge, an intensified range of measures to protect the people was to be expected. For one, starting Friday at midnight, the entry of citizens from GCC states was suspended until a pre-testing mechanism for incoming travellers is approved.

Such prudence is necessary to drastically eliminate risk. The UAE has so far recorded 153 cases of Covid-19. Of these, 38 have made a full recovery. Important medical measures have allowed for these recoveries. Stopping the spread requires diligent work, from washing hands to testing airport arrivals. Social distancing, self isolation and, for countless thousands, the reality of working from home have all come into force in the past week.

Most importantly, staying home reduces people’s exposure to contaminated surfaces and areas, lowering the chances of infecting yourself and of transmitting infection to others. Scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the US National Institutes of Health, say that on plastic and stainless steel, viable coronavirus may be detected even after three days.

It is crucial to remain mindful that no healthcare system in such trying times needs the extra load of people not heeding caution. Those not adhering to limiting their movement are jeopardising innumerable lives by letting their guard down, being potential carriers and spreaders of Covid-19.

Despite the pleading of children desperate to go outside and play, the only route to tackling this is to stay home.

Maintaining a social distance from everyone outside is essential to “flattening the curve” – that is, keep the numbers of infected manageable and to not overburden already stretched healthcare systems. The responsible approach is to keep out of contamination’s way, stay safe and neither catch nor spread the virus. This becomes possible when people play their part and follow the much-repeated, but necessary advice: wash your hands and stay at home.

Updated: March 21, 2020 08:02 PM

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