By Roy Mabasa
Similar to the Philippines’ repatriation program, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has recently conducted its own “mercy flight” with the evacuation of some 215 Arab nationals from Wuhan City, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Speaking to Filipino journalists early this week, UAE Ambassador to Manila Hamad Saeed Al-Zaabi said the evacuation aligns with the humanitarian roots of the Emirates, a legacy of its founder, the late President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan.
The UAE envoy said that on March 4, the Emirates sent to Wuhan a special aircraft equipped with HEPA cabin air filtration systems, medical supplies, and equipment necessary to carry out the evacuation procedure.
Onboard to assist in the mercy flight were members of medical response teams and cabin crew specially trained to carry out the evacuation.
Upon arrival in the UAE, local health authorities brought the evacuated Arab nationals to the Humanitarian City, a newly-minted healthcare facility that was constructed in a record two days.
In the facility, the evacuees underwent medical testing and monitoring to ensure their health and safety.
Before the humanitarian mission in Wuhan, UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan directed the country’s relevant agencies to establish a healthcare facility designed to provide necessary monitoring and preventative medical care after their evacuation.
Accordingly, the Humanitarian City was established adhering to the highest standards and high-quality care for individuals admitted, ensuring their privacy and dignity are maintained throughout their stay.
According to the UAE ambassador, the evacuees went through the mandatory protocol of a 14-day quarantine period during which they undertook the necessary medical and laboratory tests and monitored to ensure their health and safety.
It was learned that most of the evacuees were from neighboring Arab countries and some Sudanese students enrolled in various Wuhan international educational institutions.
The Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC) and the UAE Embassy in China have coordinated with the embassies of the countries concerned to organize the evacuation process as part of the UAE’s continuous efforts to enhance cooperation with the Chinese government to contain the spread of the virus.