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The New Arab

UAE detects two more coronavirus cases, raising total to seven

The UAE was the first country to confirm coronavirus cases in the region [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 February, 2020

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The total number of coronavirus cases in the United Arab Emirates rose to seven, authorities said on Saturday.
The United Arab Emirates has confirmed another two new cases of the deadly coronavirus in the country, bringing the total number of people diagnosed with the disease to seven.

The updated toll was issued by the the country's health ministry said via Twitter on Saturday, and comes as the overall death toll for the virus surpasses 720.

The UAE became the first country to confirm the first of the deadly virus in the region on January 29, when authorities confirmed doctors were treating a Chinese family-of-four that had come from a Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak.

The diagnosed people were in stable condition and under medical observation, the ministry said in a statement provided to the state news agency WAM.

"It is not a cause for concern," the ministry assured the public.

"We advise all citizens and residents to adhere to the general health guidelines," they said.

Read also: ’No reason to panic!': Meet the Lebanese student video blogging from Wuhan, coronavirus' ground zero

The statement added that authorities have taken "all the necessary precautions in accordance with the scientific recommendations, conditions, and standards approved by the World Health Organisation".

Just days after the UAE's initial announcement, Saudi Arabia denied reports there were cases of coronavirus in the kingdom.

The novel coronavirus outbreak, which began in late December, has claimed more than 722 lives, and infected at least 34,000 people in mainland China, with hundreds of cases spreading to some two dozen countries around the world.

There have been very few confirmed cases of the virus in the Middle East, however panic has increased in the region in recent weeks.

A Moroccan man was arrested in the city of Meknes for distributing fake news that caused alarm about the novel coronavirus, The New Arab's Arabic-language service reported.

The 22-year-old man was arrested by Moroccan police on suspicion of spreading fake news in which he claimed there had been cases of coronavirus in Meknes.

He was arrested after the authorities were alerted to the "fake news" video circulating on social media. 

The video in question shows a person in a medical mask claiming there have been deaths in the city of Meknes due to coronavirus as a result of contact with a Chinese tourist.

The person tells Moroccan citizens not to visit or travel to the city of Meknes.

More than a hundred Moroccans were repatriated from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak is believed to have begun, and quarantined in the Sidi Said hospital in Meknes, Morocco World News reported earlier this week.

The video, which appeared to be filmed in the hospital, spread panic among the local population that those quarantined had perhaps spread the virus. 

An employee at the hospital told news outlet Barlamane this week that all those repatriated are healthy and that the person in the video did not work in the hospital.

A Moroccan woman was arrested on similar charges of spreading fake news in Fez on Monday.

The suspect in question distributed a video in which she claimed that a Chinese restaurant owner in the city was infected with coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Iranian police said on Thursday they arrested one person for allegedly posting a "fake" video online showing the hospitalisation of a patient contaminated by coronavirus.

According to the police, the suspect suggested "that an individual contaminated by coronavirus was hospitalised in Kurdistan" in western Iran.

Read also: Arab countries are preparing for a possible coronavirus outbreak

Initial findings indicated the suspect made the video for "entertainment" purposes, the police said.

Beijing has taken extraordinary steps to halt the spread of the virus, including effectively quarantining more than 50 million people in Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province.

The pathogen is believed to have emerged in a market that sold wild game, and spread by a Lunar New Year holiday season in which hundreds of millions of Chinese travel domestically or abroad.

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