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Covid-19: Separated by shut borders, families remain concerned

Filed on March 20, 2020 | Last updated on March 20, 2020 at 08.30 am
UAE coronavirus , visa ban, residents visa ban,  Wuhan, Covid-19, health, China, warning, travel, mers, sars, Coronavirus outbreak, tourists, Visa, Flight, Middle east, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iran, Italy
Deserted look: The arrival area of Terminal 1, Dubai International Airport, wore a deserted look on Thursday after the UAE suspended entry of all UAE visa holders into the country.

(Photo by Juidin Bernarrd/KT)

The suspension of all entry into UAE comes as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of Covid-19.

The government decision to suspend entry of all UAE visa holders who are currently outside of the UAE effective Thursday afternoon has caught many expat families unawares.

As per the decision, only Emiratis who are outside of the country will be allowed to return.

Many expats who spoke to Khaleej Times said they are "worried' and thinking about alternatives for their family members who are currently visiting their home countries and won't be able to return to UAE.

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The suspension of all entry into UAE comes as a "precautionary measure to ensure the safety of those affected by the decision, which is subject to renewals depending on the health status measures taken due to the novel coronavirus outbreak," the state news agency Wam reported.

K.K. an Indian exapt in Abu Dhabi said both his parents who are UAE residents are in Mumbai now. "They were supposed to come back on March 30. They went for a three-month break to Mumbai when my in-laws came on a visit," said K.K, who does not want to quote.

"Now, I think I won't be able to bring back my parents. I also don't know whether my in-laws who are currently staying with me can return to India."

Mano, a Filipino expat in Abu Dhabi whose wife and kid are currently in Manila, said he could not stop crying after reading the news this morning.

"My wife got her residence permit two weeks ago, and I was really looking forward to see my newborn son for the first time. Now, they cannot come to UAE and I never expected things to take a different turn," said Mano.

"My wife went back to Manila last year when she became pregnant. I have been living alone for more than a year. So, you can imagine this news came as a shock to my family. She is crying over the phone and I just told her to calm down and wait till things get better," said Mano, who works as a supervisor for a catering company in Abu Dhabi.

Sajid Aboobacker, a lawyer based in Dubai said his wife and two daughters are stuck in Kerala.

"They were supposed to come back on April 3. Now, we don't know what to do. Only my elder daughter is staying with me now. She had to stay back because of her grade 10 board exams. Now our family is stuck in two different countries," said Aboobacker.

Bini Saroj, an Indian mother in Sharjah said her son who is doing masters in UK is also stuck because of the new change in rule.

His college is closed and he was supposed to fly to UAE tomorrow. He even booked the tickets. He saw the news and just called us saying he will have to stay put," Saroj told Khaleej Times.

"We are not worried. Only thing is he has to stay alone in UK and there is no clarity on when he can travel."

Anjana Sankar

Anjana Sankar is a journalist by profession and a humanist by passion. Her cluttered desk is not indicative of her state of mind.


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