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Coronavirus: UAE daily case tally jumps fivefold in one month, alarming officials

Emirati health sector warns rise in cases likely due to people not abiding by social distancing and mask-wearing measures
Emiratis working at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai
Emiratis working at Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai on 19 July (AFP/File photo)

Coronavirus cases in the United Arab Emirates increased fivefold in the past month, officials said, reiterating the importance of following safety measures designed to curb the disease. 

A spokeswoman for the Emirates' health sector, Farida al-Hosani, warned on Thursday that coronavirus cases have been on a steep rise, with the daily tally this week hitting 930, compared with 179 exactly one month ago. 

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"This is the highest number recorded in four months," Hosani said during a televised conference, as quoted by AFP.

"Those who violate the preventive measures in place, whether an individual, shops, or restaurants, will be held accountable," she added. 

Hosani said 12 percent of cases were among residents or citizens returning to the UAE from abroad, even though they received negative tests from their destination countries - which are a requirement for entry.

'Breaking coronavirus protocols'

The remainder of the cases were among those infected as a result of social events, contact in the workplace, or other gatherings.

"This includes happy occasions, funerals, work and breaking coronavirus protocols on quarantine," she said.

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Hosani said the rise in cases came because people were not abiding by measures including social distancing and compulsory mask-wearing, and were continuing to gather in large numbers in homes, shops and restaurants.

The UAE - which has a population of about nine million - has so far recorded 76,911 cases of coronavirus, including 67,945 recoveries and 398 deaths.

The country, a collection of seven emirates, went into strict lockdown in March to suppress infections, including the grounding of all inbound and outbound passenger flights. By early July, it had lifted its travel ban on residents and nationals, allowing general travel abroad for the first time in three months. 

While the virus has not hit the UAE as hard as some of its Gulf neighbours, the economic impact from coronavirus-related closures and restrictions has been severe. 

Dubai's chamber of commerce warned in May that 70 percent of the city's businesses could go under by November because of financial problems brought about by the pandemic. Still, Dubai is now largely open for business and tourism.