COVID-19 update

COVID-19 update Saturday, March 14: UAE suspends visas & all events

14 Mar 2020

17 cases in the UAE have fully recovered

As of March 11, the World Health Organisation has stated that 70% of coronavirus cases in China have recovered. 

On Wednesday night, March 11, the World Health Organisation declared the COVID-19 a pandemic. 

On Thursday, March 12, another 11 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the UAE, taking the total up to 85. 

The UAE has announced it has stopped flights to and from Italy, with the exception of Rome. 

Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press conference that while the threat of pandemic is real, 70% of the 80,000 cases in China have recovered and been discharged from hospitals. 


As of Saturday, March 14 in the UAE, the current number of cases is 85, with 17 cases fully recovered. 

UAE has suspended the issuance of visas from March 17. 

Senior residents in Abu Dhabi are being advised to stay away from crowded areas and remain indoors where possible. 

Abu Dhabi has closed all major tourist attractions for two weeks and closed nightclubs and events.

Dubai has also cancelled all events, and ordered hotels and establishments to suspend operations. Weddings happening from Sunday, March 15 are to be postponed. 

Travellers arriving in UAE are being tested with nasal swabs and thermal scanning, and the smart gates for departures in Dubai Airports are being closed. Anyone suffering from the disease is being offered free health care, under the directives of the Dubai Health Authority. 

The UAE has also implemented a WhatsApp hotline for residents to contact if they're concerned about symptoms or being infected with the disease.

It's believed Dubai World Cup will be run but without public attendance. 

Events cancelled in the UAE include:

  • Arabian Travel Market
  • Electronic music Ultra festival at Abu Dhabi's 25,000-capacity Du arena and K-pop concert Music Bank at Dubai's 17,000-capacity Coca Cola Arena have been cancelled
  • Dubai's flagship international art fair "Art Dubai", scheduled for this month, has been postponed
  • The 28th edition of the Dubai International Boat Show, which was meant to take place next week (Tuesday March 10 until Saturday March 14) at the swish Dubai Harbour in Dubai Marina, has been postponed until later this year.
  • The annual food festival "Taste of Dubai" was due to take place from Thursday March 12 to Saturday March 14, but has now been postponed until December 9 to 12.
  • Dubai’s annual SIKKA Arts Festival has been postponed to coincide with Expo Dubai 2020, as announced by the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority.

UAE-wide, schools have turned to online learning while the facilities are deep-cleaned.

A UAE PR firm has also temporarily closed its offices as a worker has contracted the virus. 

Schools have been closed however, the Ministry of Education has denied rumours that the UAE school year would be finished early. 


In Saudi Arabia, the current number of cases sits at 21, and Saudi nationals have been given three days to return to the Kingdom (starting March 10). Land and air borders are closing to prevent the spread.  


The case count has reached 69, and the country has stopped issuing visas for the foreseeable future. 


Globally, more than 100 countries are affected, with 111,000 confirmed cases of the virus. 

The Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards have been cancelled.

Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has also decided to film her daily show in Burbank, California without a live studio audience amid the coronavirus outbreak, which has officially been declared a pandemic by officials at the World Health Organization.

Meanwhile, U.S. leader Donald Trump has suspended all travel from mainland Europe for the next 30 days in an effort to contain the virus.

In America, major festivals, like this month's SXSW and April's Coachella and Stagecoach, have been cancelled or postponed, and on Wednesday evening, officials at the National Basketball Association suspended the entire season until further notice after a player tested positive for coronavirus.

Filming has also been affected - production on TV drama Riverdale has been shut down after producers learned a crew member had come into contact with a coronavirus victim, and Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, have tested positive for COVID-19 in Australia, where the Oscar winner was preparing to shoot director Baz Luhrmann's new Elvis Presley biopic.

Meanwhile, the premiere of Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington's new TV drama, Little Fires Everywhere, has been cancelled due to health concerns. The screening was scheduled for Thursday night.

"As you are all aware, the current state of affairs has altered the daily lives of many people, including our cast and crew," a statement reads. "After hearing from many of you, and out of an abundance of caution, we are cancelling tomorrow's Little Fires Everywhere premiere screening and celebration.

"We are extremely proud of this series and can't wait to share it with you when it debuts on Hulu on March 18. Thank you for your understanding."

For more information, see's updates.