Published on: April 2020
Category: Health policy
On December 8, 2019, respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus (COVID-19) was first
identified in Wuhan city, China and subsequently reported to the public by the end of the year (Chen & Yu, 2020; El-Jardali et al. 2020). The source of Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) has not yet been identified. Early on in the outbreak, many of the patients in Wuhan, China, reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting the likelihood that the virus emerged from an animal source. Analysis of the genetics of this virus is ongoing, to ascertain the exact source of the virus (MoHaP, 2020).
Spreading to 210 countries and territories in less than 4 months, the virus has now affected more than two million people worldwide. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, signalling to the world that continued spread is likely, and that countries should prepare for the possibility of widespread community transmission (El-Jardali et al. 2020).
While health systems in high-income countries would be stretched by the outbreak, the most
devastating effects would be in countries with weak health systems, ongoing conflicts, or existing infectious disease epidemics. In these countries, it is imperative to rapidly detect and contain the virus at points of entry to prevent community transmission and health systems from being overwhelmed (Lancet 2020). In the United Arab Emirates, the first case of coronavirus infection was confirmed on January 29, 2020 (MoHaP, 2020; Moonesar et al. 2020). With cases continuously growing, questions arise regarding the sufficiency of existing measures and the capacity of the health system to respond efficiently to the growing demands.