March 5, 2020 / 7:24 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 3-Concerned by coronavirus outbreak, UAE advises against travel abroad

* UAE is major hub for international air travel

* UAE has reported at least 27 coronavirus cases (Adds new details on sporting events)

DUBAI, March 5 (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates is urging its citizens and other residents to avoid travelling abroad because of concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, state news agency WAM said on Thursday.

Authorities in the Gulf state, which has reported at least 27 coronavirus cases, may order medical checks on travellers when they return and ask them to stay in isolation at home for 14 days, WAM cited a health ministry statement as saying.

The UAE is closing schools and educational institutions for four weeks on March 8, and students and education workers will have to spend a compulsory two weeks at home after returning from overseas.

The Gulf Arab state is a major hub for international air travel and its Dubai airport is one of the world’s busiest, handling 86.4 million passengers last year, most of whom were in transit.

Dubai’s health authority said on Wednesday a student had contracted the virus from a parent who had travelled overseas.

Medical tests are already being conducted on passengers arriving from China, Italy, Lebanon, Thailand and Syria at Dubai airport and entering the country, the airport says.

The test is a nasal swab and temperature check.

Transit passengers are not being tested but will have their temperature checked before boarding their connecting flight, Emirates said on its website.

The new travel advice could contribute to pressure on the economy in the Gulf state if passenger traffic falls, with the coronavirus weighing on consumer confidence and business productivity.

Flights from the UAE to Iran, Bahrain and most of mainland China have been suspended because of the outbreak, which has also led to major events being cancelled across the country.

A government circular seen by Reuters showed that sporting events in Dubai this month that have international participation could be cancelled.

The Dubai Sports Council circular said it clarified an earlier notice sent out by the council which had requested all sporting events be postponed until the end of the month.

The football association said on Wednesday that all soccer games would be played behind closed doors until further notice. (Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli, Alexander Cornwell, Nafisa Eltahir, Maha El Dahan and Davide Barbuscia; Writing by Aziz El Yaakoubi and Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Alexander Smith and Timothy Heritage)

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