The United Arab Emirates, a major international air transit center, is prepared for "worst case scenarios" as the new coronavirus spreads in the Middle East, a government official said on Wednesday.
Three Gulf Arab states recorded their first new coronavirus cases this week, all in people coming from Iran, the UAE's neighbor across the Gulf which on Wednesday reported a total of 19 virus-related deaths, the most outside China, and 139 cases.
UAE authorities have enough facilities to quarantine patients and will be carrying out surveillance on people entering the country, said the official from the UAE National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority.
It was too early to ban public gatherings in the business, trade and tourism hub, added the official. Dubai is due to host the Expo 2020 world fair in October for six months.
The UAE has reported 13 cases of the new coronavirus since Jan. 28, three of whom have recovered.
"We are quite satisfied that we have taken all the necessary steps needed to preempt the spread of the virus at all levels, without pushing the country into a state of unwarranted panic," the UAE official said.
The disease, which originated in China late last year, has infected about 80,000 people and killed more than 2,700, the vast majority in China.
Kuwait, which last week evacuated 700 people from Iran, said on Wednesday that the number of people diagnosed with the virus had risen to 25 after 13 more cases were confirmed.
Bahrain, which has suspended flights to Dubai, on Wednesday reported a rise in cases to 26, some of whom had traveled through the UAE. Oman has recorded four cases.
Major Gulf bourses slid on Wednesday, mirroring declines in global stocks over the spread of the virus. Air Arabia extended losses from the previous session to trade 2.8% lower, after the UAE on Tuesday suspended all flights to and from Iran.
Several Arab countries have suspended flights to Iran and other destinations and imposed shipping restrictions.
Kuwait has barred foreign ships, except those carrying oil, from departing to or arriving from several countries, according to a Feb. 25 notice seen by Reuters.