UAE confirms first two COVID-19 deaths

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced the deaths of two coronavirus patients, the first such fatalities to be reported in the country.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention said in a statement late on Friday that one of the two individuals was a 78-year-old “Arab national” who had come from Europe. The cause of death was a heart attack, coinciding with complications from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

The second patient was a 58-year-old “Asian national” and resident of the UAE, who had prior chronic illnesses, including heart disease and kidney failure, which “further complicated” their ability to fight the virus.

The new coronavirus was first detected in the central Chinese of Wuhan late last year and has since spread to at least 164 countries and territories.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic.

According to data compiled by the US-based Johns Hopkins University, the death toll now exceeds 11,000 of more than 258,000 confirmed cases. Some 87,000 people have recovered.

Despite the rising number of cases and deaths, most who become infected suffer only relatively mild symptoms.

There are 140 cases of the coronavirus reported in the UAE to date. Like other countries around the world, the UAE has introduced restrictions on passenger arrivals, but has not so far imposed confinement measures, with public spaces, such as shopping centres and restaurants remaining open.

More than 1,300 coronavirus infections have been detected in the Gulf region, with most cases initially identified among travellers returning from Iran, one of the world’s hardest-hit countries.

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