At a time when most countries are getting hospitals and medical facilities up and ready for the worst of the coronavirus to come, the UAE has said that it is fully prepared for any potential surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in all of the seven Emirates and has "plans in place" to deal with any situation.
Several Middle East states have announced that they are seeing a sharp increase in the number of coronavirus infections among low income foreign workers who live in overcrowded accommodations.
Dubai converts World Trade Center into a field hospital
To fully prepare for any impending surge in coronavirus cases in the emirate, Dubai has converted the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) into a coronavirus field hospital with capacity to treat up to 3,000 patients, according to a local media report.
The makeshift hospital which has a capacity of 3,000 beds, including 800 beds for intensive care patients, will be partially opened with a capacity of 1,000 beds on Thursday, April 16, a public health official said.
The field hospital will be operational in phases as and when the need arises.
Two new coronavirus field hospitals coming soon in Dubai
The emirate is also in the process of constructing two more field hospitals that will cater to thousands of coronavirus patients.
Dubai has comprehensive plans to tackle "all scenarios" and is well prepared, should the number of cases drastically increase, the Gulf News cited Humaid Al Qutami, Director General of Dubai Health Authority, as saying.
"We will have more than two field hospitals ready in Dubai to be ready for any situation," Al Qutami said.
He said hospitals in Dubai already have between 4,000 to 5,000 beds to treat coronavirus patients but the emirate is "prepared to help another 5,000, 10,000, or God forbid more."
Isolation in five-star hotels
Apart from increasing the bed capacity in its hospitals, Dubai is doing something none of the other countries in the world seem to be doing. The emirate, along with Abu Dhabi, is reportedly using its five-star hotels to put up isolated patients for monitoring.
The hotels could also be converted into hospitals should the need arise, in order to accommodate more patients and increase the emirate's bed capacity, according to the report.
What Abu Dhabi is doing
In the UAE capital, hotels on Abu Dhabi's Yas Island are being used to receive isolated cases of coronavirus and will be converted into field hospitals if needed. A group of hotels has reportedly donated more than 1,000 rooms to the Abu Dhabi government for use during the pandemic.
The emirate's COVID-19 cases are currently being handled by the Shaikh Khalifa Medical City and the Al Rahna Hospital.
What the other emirates are doing
Similar measures are being taken by the other emirates in the UAE. The Al Ain Exhibition Centre in Al Ain and the Ras Al Khaimah Medical Centre and Obaidullah Hospital in Ras Al Khaimah have been converted into temporary coronavirus field hospitals. Four five-star hotels in both the emirates are being used to receive isolated patients and could be converted into field hospitals if needed.
Likewise, in Fujairah, the Fujairah Exhibition Centre in the emirate of Fujairah has been converted into a temporary field hospital and several hotels are ready to be turned into hospitals if necessary.
The Health Ministry's hospital in Ajman is also treating coronavirus patients.
The Emirates Humanitarian City
The UAE will also be using the Emirates Humanitarian City in case of an unprecedented boom. The complex was originally built to deal with the sole purpose of receiving evacuees from China.
The UAE authorities have equipped the Emirates Humanitarian City with all necessary equipment and furnishings to ensure the individuals who are receiving medical care and attention are provided with a comfortable environment, according to Dr Saif Jumaa Al Dhaheri, Director of Safety and Prevention at the UAE National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA).
The Emirates Humanitarian City complex has been built in keeping with the highest standards of quality healthcare for individuals admitted. It ensures their privacy and dignity throughout their stay. The complex has entertainment facilities, both indoor and outdoor for the evacuees and medicines, food, and other items of daily use are provided.
The complex can accommodate hundreds of families ensuring their safety, privacy and security.
Similar measures in other Arab nations
Several Gulf Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait have said that they are seeing a growing number of Covid-19 infections among low income foreign workers who are living in overcrowded accommodations.
The Middle East has millions of migrant workers, most of them from countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines, who account for the bulk of the region's labour force. Many of them live in overcrowded labour camps and paid accommodations.
Saudi Arabia's education ministry has announced that it will allow more than 3,400 shuttered school buildings in the kingdom to be used as alternative housing to accommodate migrant workers who previously lived in cramped accommodation. The neighbouring Kingdom of Bahrain is also converting car parks into field hospitals.
Despite the containment efforts, the UAE has reported more than 5,365 cases of coronavirus infection and 33 deaths as of Wednesday, April 15.