DUBAI – The United Arab Emirates has stopped all public transport and will restrict people’s movement at night for a week of nationwide disinfection campaigns beginning Thursday to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
The business hub in the region, which has confirmed 333 cases of the virus with two deaths, has not been announced by an official curfew or work suspension but is especially attached to the movement.
Authorities announced late Wednesday that the UAE will restrict traffic movements and people from 8 p.m. (1600 GMT) Thursday to 6am Sunday as it disinfects public transport and public facilities.
Restrictions were limited to those dates, a spokesman for security forces clarified at a press conference on Thursday, adding that only essential service workers would be allowed. Violators will face fines.
Public transportation including trams and metro services will be suspended, while private cars, cabs and car deliveries may operate outside those hours.
The UAE is slowly following other Gulf states in suspending passenger flights and closing public places such as restaurants and malls. The emirate of Dubai on Wednesday ordered the private sector to enforce long-term employment for the majority of its staff but returned a broad spectrum of businesses.
Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have taken the most precautionary measures, including imposing partial curfews across the country and suspending work in most public and private establishments.
The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council has recorded nearly 2,500 cases of coronavirus, with eight deaths. Saudi Arabia has the highest tally of 900 infections.
Bahrain continues to evacuate several hundred Bahraini pilgrims stranded in Iran, which is a regional center for pain in the region.
A second flight of about 60 Bahrainis arrived overnight from Iran’s holy city of Mashhad by the city of Mashhad, operated by Iranian airline Kish, family and a Bahraini official on Reuters.
Earlier this month Bahrain had 165 people, but a subsequent scheduled flight was canceled. At least 85 of the first batch of evacuees tested positive for the virus.
The island state, which reported 419 cases of coronavirus and 4 deaths, most of them linked to travel to Iran, had longstanding differences with Iran and criticized the Islamic Republic for not storing in passports of Bahraini citizens. (Reporting by Lisa Barrington, Aziz El Yaakoubi and Yousef Saba; Writing by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Ghaida Ghantous and Raissa Kasolowsky)