Coronavirus: 63 new cases in UAE, sterilisation drive to continue until April 4
There were 468 cases in the Emirates as of Saturday
The UAE reported 63 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday taking the total to 468.
Health officials said the tally includes eight Emiratis, while 55 patients have recovered since the outbreak began.
In other developments, a three-day nationwide sterilisation of streets and public transport was extended until April 4.
It means the nightly curfew that saw residents told to stay at home between 8pm to 6am will continue.
People are allowed to leave their homes during the day - but trips must be restricted to essential shopping or medical appointments.
Dr Farida Al Hosani, from Abu Dhabi Centre for Public Health, said she was hopeful the public would stay at home during the sterilisation programme.
She thanked the members of the Civil Defence, municipalities, police, military and the hundreds of workers from federal and local organisations taking part in the safety initiative.
During a press briefing on Saturday, Dr Al Hosani said more than 500 volunteers in the Emirates have stepped up to help out essential workers in a number of sectors over the past few weeks.
To date, “535 volunteers are in training programmes” across the country.
“[They are supporting efforts] in call centres, quarantine facilities, hospitals as well as various sterilisation activities,” she said.
"The past two days during the sterilisation drive has seen tremendous social and institutional solidarity in the country.”
With a week-long extension to the current nationwide sterilisation drive announced, she advised residents to opt for electronic payments when ordering home deliveries, which are expected to increase during stay-home hours.
“When receiving deliveries it is best to avoid contact as much as possible. Payments should be made through contactless means and items should be left outside the door,” she said.
“It is important to get rid of bags or packaging immediately and it is essential that you wash any products or produce as well as your hands.”
She also advised people to avoid ordering "raw food from restaurants".
Speaking about ways to reduce susceptibility to Covid-19, Dr Al Hosani said smokers are generally among the groups most vulnerable to infection.
“They often touch their face and mouth when smoking and they are likely to have complications from the disease and the associated respiratory symptoms,” she said.
She reiterated that all efforts to curb the smoking of cigarettes and shisha was advisable.
Dr Al Hosani also touched on queries surrounding the use of malaria medication to help fight infection.
Some countries have reported people self-prescribing pills to try and stave off the disease and its symptoms.
“Malaria medicines, like all medicines, require medical supervision and should be prescribed by a trained physician," she said.
“At the present time, we are looking into a number of drugs to fight Covid-19, including malaria drugs.
"Several scientific research projects are ongoing to know which treatment is best and we are following the results closely.
"For now, we advise adhering to a doctor's supervision with the use of any treatment.”
In other developments, the UAE has received requests from more than 29,000 residents who remain overseas due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Khaled Al Mazrouei, advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said it was working to support citizens and residents looking to return to the UAE during the outbreak.
“The Ministry has a new plan in place for people who have a valid residency in the UAE but are stuck abroad,” he said.
“We have received 29,000 applications through the Tawajidi service for those requesting travel support since many [passenger] flights were grounded.”
He said the Ministry would prioritise “humanitarian and exceptional cases" and urged all those overseas to “abide by strict preventative and precautionary measures”, including avoiding public places.
He added that all citizens outside the country had been contacted to check their status and help facilitate their return home.
Updated: March 29, 2020 12:31 PM