Containing COVID-19 risk in the UAE: Mass quarantine, mental health, and implications for crisis management

Author First name, Last name, Institution

Justin Thomas, Zayed University
James P. Terry, Zayed University

Document Type


Source of Publication

Risk, Hazards and Crisis in Public Policy

Publication Date



The COVID-19 pandemic is the first global “NASECH disaster,” owing to its natural hazard (NH) origin and unprecedented subsequent repercussions for global society (S), economy (EC), and health (H). Emergency health control measures required the implementation of compulsory mass quarantine (CMQ) or so-called periods of “lockdown.” Yet, CMQ is an instrument with iatrogenic consequences, associated with a rise in societal levels of depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress. With a view to informing future crisis management, the study investigated sociodemographic factors associated with mental wellbeing during the March–April 2020 lockdown in the United Arab Emirates. Respondents (n = 1585) completed self-report measures of depression (PHQ8) and generalized anxiety (GAD7). Rates of symptomatology were notably higher than those observed in similar UAE-based studies before the pandemic. Younger age, urban-dwelling, female-gender, and a history of mental health problems were significant factors linked to elevated levels of depression and anxiety. Findings emphasize (1) the crucial need for psychological intervention after disasters and (2) the importance of strengthening the nexus at the intersection of public health and disaster risk reduction (DRR). Implications are that future pandemic containment would benefit from adopting new Health–DRR paradigms and ensuring these are effectively translated into disaster policy.




Medicine and Health Sciences | Social and Behavioral Sciences


COVID-19, lockdown, mental health, NASECH disaster, pandemic, quarantine, risk management, UAE

Scopus ID


Indexed in Scopus


Open Access