During the regular media briefing on Saturday, Dr. Farida Al Hosani, the official spokesperson for the UAE health sector, advised members of the community to refrain from spreading false information and rumours and instead consume news and decisions from official sources only, saying: ''We all have a responsibility toward ensuring the success of national efforts to fight the novel coronavirus.
On preventative measures, Dr. Al Hosani underscored that wearing face masks is imperative for all at this stage, especially when leaving home . ''Studies showed that wearing face masks in public places is typically limited to those suffering from respiratory ailments like coughing." However, she continued, "new studies and research, as well as international recommendations, suggest that the virus could infect people who do not show symptoms." She suggested home-made basic cotton face masks for protection, emphasizing the need for regularly washing them.
Speaking about the National Disinfection Programme, Dr. Al Hosani discussed the extension of the nation-wide sanitisation drive after the successful implementation of the first phase, describing it as an ''important'' step within the country's ongoing preventative measures to fight the virus. The programme will be subject to periodic assessment as per recommendations approved by the World Health Organisation and established international practices.
In her remarks, she underscored the importance of compliance from the public during the programme, as authorities in each emirate will implement disinfection plans that accommodate the requirements of local entities.
Discussing the economic impact of COVID-19, Rashid Al Muhairi, Spokesperson for the Ministry of Economy, said that the economic sector is the most affected by the virus given the fact that the UAE economy is competitive, flexible, and highly connected to international markets. ''The UAE economy is not far away from the effects of the COVID-19 crisis,'' he noted.
''To ward off this negative impact, the Ministry of Economy has coordinated with other relevant authorities to ensure business sustainability, increase readiness, and set up central operations rooms and taskforces on retail outlets, suppliers, price controls, consumer protections, tourism, and foreign trade and investment to address the expected economic challenges,'' he added.
On measures taken so far, Al Muhairi explained that a database of more than 1,600 registered retail outlets across the country has been established and a plan has been developed to regularly assess the availability of basic commodities.
Al Muhairi referred to sustained coordination between the Ministry and its stakeholders, including suppliers and retail outlets, to ensure that these commodities are available at reasonable prices. Coordination with customs departments has also enabled the fast tracking and facilitation of the entry of food shipments from ports to storehouses. Customs and clearance procedures have been reduced from two days to a few hours, he explained.