UAE: Don't jet-ski, swim or play in stagnant water, residents told as authorities warn of health risks

Health authorities offer tips to stay safe from mosquitoes after record-breaking rainfall


Sahim Salim


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Tue 23 Apr 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 9 May 2024, 8:19 AM

Authorities and doctors have warned residents to avoid stagnant water as the heaviest rainfall on record left some neighbourhoods flooded. In advisories issued after the rains, health authorities have also offered tips to stay safe from mosquitoes.

Among the cases reported at hospitals after the rains are respiratory and skin infections caused by prolonged exposure to water and other damp surroundings. Patients are seeking medical help for fever, cough and cold.

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In an advisory posted on X, Al Ain Municipality warned residents against using jet-skis and boats in water pools. Videos showing some people on jet-skis zooming through stagnant water were posted on social media recently.

“It is forbidden to play, swim or walk in pools of stagnant water in residential neighbourhoods due to the possibility of (it) mixing with … harmful substances. Avoid swimming in ponds and water pools in sandy areas. It is strictly forbidden to drink or cook from stagnant … water in all places,” the civic body said.

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) warned residents to stay away from stagnant water to avoid contamination risks. “Avoid direct exposure to stagnant water and, if necessary, wear protective tools such as gloves and boots. Thoroughly wash any part of your body, clothes, toys, or tools that have come into contact with stagnant water. Refrain from touching your eyes, nose, and mouth unless your hands are washed or sanitized,” the authority said in an advisory posted on X.

Stay safe from mosquitoes

The Emirates Health Services (EHS) warned that mosquitoes can become more prevalent, “posing a risk of bites”. It advised residents to use mosquito repellents and wear protective clothing — “cover up with long sleeves, pants, and socks to minimise skin exposure”.

“Avoid peak mosquito times: Stay indoors during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. Keep doors and windows screened: Ensure windows and doors have screens to keep mosquitoes out of living spaces,” the authority said.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) advised residents to drain accumulated water. “Secure entrances, and install window screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering the house. Wear long-sleeved clothes and use mosquito repellent creams.”

According to the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), residents must seek medical advice if they experience any symptoms such as fever, diarrhoea, or cough.

Hospital cases

The average number of patients visiting general physicians a day at NMC Specialty Hospital, Al Ain, has reached 40 — up from 25 to 30 before the storms.

“There has been a definite increase in the number of cases of viral fever, cold, and cough. The most common rain-related illnesses reported include acute bronchitis, rhinosinusitis, rhinitis, acute pharyngitis, nasopharyngitis, and viral fever, to name a few,” said Dr Mujeeb Quadeer, general practitioner at the hospital.

“Apart from the newly diagnosed cases, there has been an increase in exacerbation of chronic conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and chronic rhinitis.”

Dr Srinivasa Rao Polumuru, consultant internal medicine, NMC Specialty Hospital, said the torrential rains have led to a “significant increase” in respiratory infections.

He noted a high number of people getting admitted with “unusual” pneumonia and flu symptoms. “Many asthmatic people are admitted with sudden exacerbations. Many people are coming to the emergency department with high fever and body aches.”

Increased demand for medicines

With the number of people getting sick increasing, the demand for medicines has also risen.

Krishna Kishore, chief operating officer, Life Pharmacy, said the group is “closely monitoring the enhanced demand” for certain medicines. “We are committed to offer continued supplies with the support of the local administration, departments and medicine suppliers.”

To manage increased demand for medicines, health practitioners are prioritising essential medications.

Dr Abhi Mohan, general practitioner, Lifeline Clinic, Abu Shagara, said: “If a specific brand is unavailable, we recommend suitable alternatives. We inform patients about shortages and provide guidance (accordingly). We are also coordinating with other pharmacies and healthcare providers to share resources.”

Home remedies

With more rains predicted over the next couple of days and a drop in temperature on Wednesday, doctors advised community members to try home remedies instead of visiting hospitals amid unstable weather.

“Unless the health condition is serious … individuals should try home remedies to counter flu symptoms. People must stay hydrated and eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and food. They can gargle with warm salt water for relief from sore throat, and drink ginger tea with lemon and honey, which will also counter mild cold and cough,” said Dr Eman Abdul Kader, specialist internal medicine, Burjeel Speciality Hospital, Sharjah.

According to Kishore, home remedies and some over-the-counter medicines can help in symptomatic relief. However, in cases of high fever, fatigue, vomiting or any other health issues, patients must be taken to the hospital, he added.


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