A decision has been issued by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) for the temporary suspension of travel using just the national identity cards of the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf citizens due to an increase in the number of coronavirus cases.

The measure came into force on Friday as one of a number of precautions being taken to deal with the new outbreak, with six new cases being reported within the UAE.

The move comes following the announcement that the UAE Tour Cycling race is being cancelled before stage six, which was supposed to be taking place on Friday, after positive tests for the virus were received by two cyclists from Italy.

The last few days have seen infections in Bahrain and Kuwait soaring, with Saudi Arabia suspending visas for visits to the holiest sites in Iran for the Umrah pilgrimage.

The unprecedented move has raised questions about the effect that fears over coronavirus could have on the annual Hajj.

In the UAE, the ICA highlighted a statement from WAM, the state news agency, about the need for travellers to make use of valid passports.

The move is intended to assist with the monitoring of people from and to nations that have the virus and who could pose a threat to the citizens and residents of the UAE.

UAE citizens who live overseas and who left the country with the use of their ID cards are exempt from the decision, as are citizens of the GCC who came to the UAE before the decision was made, the ICA says.

The procedures are only intended to be a temporary measure and are subject to reassessment and review.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Health and Prevention in the UAE stated that two patients with the virus in the country have recovered, though there has been confirmation of six new cases.

The number of reported cases in the UAE has now reached 19, with five having already been cured.

The six brand-new cases include one Bahraini, one Chinese and four Iranians.

All six came to the UAE via Iran before the recently enforced travel ban, according to a ministry statement.

The statement also says that every necessary precaution is being taken to ensure the efficiency of preventative measures including observation and check-ups on those who are in contact with virus patients.

All measures are being taken in accordance with World Health Organisation standards and guidelines.

The Federal Authority for Land and Maritime Transport (FTA) in the UAE has also banned ferry services with Iran indefinitely.

All commercial vessels entering the UAE need to show a statement of health condition for their entire crew 72 hours before they arrive in the country.

The new measures will see all port authorities in the UAE reporting any suspected cases of coronavirus to the FTA.

Anyone who travels to the UAE should take out travel insurance to ensure that they are financially protected in the event of falling ill while overseas.


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