Gulf states convert event centers and hotels into medical facilities

DUBAI -- Several Gulf states have transformed places like hotels, event centers and parking garages into medical facilities for coronavirus patients. Some are now hospitals for treatment while others were turned into quarantine centers.

Authorities have converted the Dubai World Trade Center into a field hospital that can house 3,000 coronavirus patients in a bid to ramp up the country’s capacity to treat people infected with the COVID-19.

While Dubai hospitals currently have between 4,000 and 5,000 beds available, authorities are preparing to increase their capacity to up to 10,000 or more beds, according to the Director General of the Dubai Health Authority Humaid Al-Qutami.

Across the country, mobile testing centers have also been launched as part of the UAE’s rapidly expanding coronavirus testing program. The country is conducting 32,000 tests at its recently opened drive-thru test centers and has also established a massive testing laboratory.

Saudi Arabia has quarantined thousands of people in hotels, some in luxury suites, to combat COVID-19, throwing a temporary lifeline to an industry struggling just months after tourist visas were launched.

Faced with nearly 4,500 novel coronavirus infections, Saudi Arabia has halted air travel, locked down cities and imposed nationwide curfews in a crisis that has dealt a blow to the nascent tourism sector.

Offering a ray of hope, however, the government is splurging millions of dollars to quarantine thousands of overseas travelers and those exposed to infected people in otherwise empty hotels around the kingdom.

One four-star hotel in central Riyadh with 100-plus rooms was left with only five guests in mid-March when the Saudi government offered $4 million ($1.06 million) a month for it to be used as a quarantine facility, an industry source said.

Dubai authorities have been isolating citizens returning from abroad for 14 days in luxury properties before they are permitted to re-enter society as part of preventive measures to curb the spread of the new coronavirus pandemic.

“We try to provide all their demands, whether on the matters of health or education to make it (quarantine) easier for them, like a home that meets all their needs and so they don’t feel that they are in an isolated or restricted place,” said Bushra Rahoumi, commander of Dubai City National Emergency Response Volunteer Program.

Bahrain has turned a car park near the capital Manama into an intensive care unit with 130 beds for patients infected with the novel coronavirus, in a first in the Gulf.

The new ICU in the covered car park was set up as a precautionary measure in case of a spike in cases of the COVID-19 respiratory disease, officials said. -- Al Arabiya English




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