UAE warns residents, including expats, not to travel anywhere amid coronavirus outbreak

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has told its residents, including British expats, not to travel anywhere abroad amid the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak.

The nation’s Health and Community Protection Ministry delivered the warning on 5 March, reports AP.

Officials said that anyone who travelled abroad could face quarantine themselves upon their return.

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Two major airlines are based in the UAE: Emirates, which is government-owned and flies out of Dubai International Airport, and Etihad, the flag carrier for Abu Dhabi.

Both have already been hit hard by reduced demand for flights due to the virus, which has spread to 85 countries and killed more than 3,200 people worldwide.

Emirates has asked staff to take unpaid leave for up to a month after cancelling flights to Iran, Bahrain and most of China because of coronavirus. 

“Considering the availability of additional resources and the fact that many employees want to utilise their leave, we have provided our employees the option to avail leave or apply for voluntary unpaid leave for up to one month at a time,” chief operating officer Adel al-Redha said in a statement.

Etihad has taken a similar stance, asking some staff to bring forward their leave from later in the year to combat a reduction in operations.

An Etihad spokesperson told Gulf News that the airline has asked cabin crew members to consider “bringing forward paid leave from later this year to April, due to changed demand caused by the Covid-19 virus.”

The airline added: “Global restrictions on travel and re-timing of events have caused many passengers to change their travel arrangements, and the airline is among many realigning resources to accommodate these changes.”

The latest UAE travel advisory is likely to have an even bigger impact on the two international carriers.

It comes as the International Air Transport Association (Iata) releases its estimate that the coronavirus outbreak could cost the aviation industry as much as $113bn (£87.47bn) this year – almost quadruple its previous forecast.

The industry body had previously estimated that the deadly bug would cost the industry $29.3bn (£22.68bn) in terms of lost revenue, but this was based on a scenario where the impact of coronavirus would be “largely confined to markets associated with China”.

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