The US city of Dubai, the world’s largest oil and gas hub, has seen a dramatic surge in the number of cases of coronavirus in recent weeks.
The virus has now infected more than half the city’s population.
The coronaviral disease, which is transmitted by breathing in the dust of an aerosol cloud, can kill within three days.
But it has also sparked a public health emergency as the virus has spread to homes, schools and the workplace, prompting calls for tighter security.
Al Jazeera’s Andrew Hinchliffe, reporting from Dubai, said the latest outbreak was not a surprise.
He said the coronaviruses virus has hit Dubai particularly hard, and in particular its airport and transport hub, and has caused panic.
“It’s a bit of a surprise because of the level of panic and the level, frankly, of concern about the coronax virus in the city,” he said.
“But the real surprise is the level and severity of the infections in the air and on the ground.
Al Jazeera can reveal a few details of the cases in Dubai. “
And it’s also just the number and severity that’s outstripping what we’re used to in other parts of the world.”
Al Jazeera can reveal a few details of the cases in Dubai.
The number of coronas cases has risen to 6,638, according to the Dubai Health Ministry, the most in the world.
The latest data shows 1,637 of those cases were imported from abroad.
The country has the second-highest number of imported cases in the region after China, which has a peak of around 15,000 cases.
Al-Ahmar, the airport, reported a total of 1,873 cases, followed by Abu Dhabi with 851 and the United Arab Emirates with 646.
The United Arab Emirate is also in the top 10 countries with the most imported cases, according the World Health Organization.
But the coronas virus is still not endemic in the UAE, where the health ministry said it did not have a specific case data.
The WHO said the country has seen no increase in coronavaccine cases, but the number in the population has been on the rise.
WHO head Dr Niamh Faughnan said the number could not be excluded that more than a handful of people in the country were infected with the virus, though it was too early to tell whether that was a result of the coronava virus or a result from other factors.
“The number of new cases that we have in Dubai is not comparable to other countries in the Gulf region, in terms of their total population,” she told Al Jazeera.
“There are probably many more cases in Qatar than in the UK and France, or the US and Canada, but there are not enough cases here to really say that it is a significant part of the population in the Emirates.”
Faughhan said the WHO was working closely with the authorities to ensure that all the countries of the region did not experience an increase in imported cases.
“We have been urging them to take the precautions necessary to stop these coronavacials in the US,” she said.
The US embassy in Dubai said it was working to prevent the spread of the virus.
“DHA’s commitment to the safety of its citizens is unparalleled and includes the full range of measures we take to ensure our embassy is a safe environment for our staff and guests,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
“To date, we have had zero reports of infection or disease in the Embassy or our staff in Dubai.”
Al-Thani, a Dubai-based business group, said there was concern that the coronaves virus could spread to neighbouring countries.
“This is not the first time this has happened, and it is certainly not the last time,” said Al-Waleed, who heads the business group’s advisory council.
“When you see the level that has been raised and the number that has come up, we are not too worried about it,” he added.
The Dubai Health ministry said a total 945 cases of respiratory illness have been reported in the area since Wednesday.
“Health authorities have identified all the contacts, but we have to be cautious because we don’t want to get into the city and let this spread to other areas,” Al-Moussawi said.
Al Nahyan, the capital of the country’s western desert, recorded its second case on Thursday.
The Health Ministry said it had not yet received confirmation of the new cases.