DUBAI — Authorities in Dubai, the glitzy travel hub known for its high priced real estate and towering skyscrapers, ordered late Saturday that all citizens and residents stay home for 24 hours at a time for the next two weeks to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The curfew, which is presented as community “disinfection campaign,” was previously just during the night hours and now extends throughout the day. Only one family member is allowed to leave the house and then only for essentials like groceries or medical reasons. Face masks are now mandatory for going outside.
The new moves comes amid sharp jump in confirmed cases of the virus, which have soared to 1,505 by Saturday night — more than half of those cases discovered just in the last four days. There are have been 10 fatalities in total.
“Proactive surveillance and testing, along with the expansion in the isolation of contact cases, are critical in this stage, and therefore we expect to diagnose more cases,” said Farida al-Hosani, a spokeswoman for the Health Ministry.
UAE, and its commercial hub of Dubai in particular, has slowly been undergoing harsher restrictions to stop the spread of the virus. Initially it lagged behind the measures of its neighbors but in the last two weeks, all malls and restaurants have been shut, the metro closed, access to beaches banned, incoming and outgoing flights canceled and curfews passed.
It also announced the postponement of its much hyped world’s fair set for October, Dubai Expo 2020, that was expected to bring millions of tourists.
On Thursday, the al-Ras quarter, a crowded hub of traditional markets and wholesale distributors, was sealed off from the rest of the city and all residents told to stay inside.