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UAE reports 1,007 new COVID-19 cases, highest since outbreak

FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective face masks and gloves shop at Dubai mall after the UAE government eased a curfew and allowed stores to open, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates May 3, 2020. REUTERS/Rula Rouhana

DUBAI (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates health ministry on Saturday reported 1,007 new coronavirus cases, its highest daily number of infections since the start of the pandemic.

The Gulf Arab state has seen cases surge over the past six weeks from 164 cases on Aug. 3, a trend government officials have blamed on people not adhering to social distancing measures.

Case numbers had been generally falling after peaking at 994 on May 22, though there had been some periodic rises before the recent surge.

The UAE has recorded 78,849 infections and 399 deaths from COVID-19 so far. The government does not disclose where in the country of seven emirates the infections or deaths occurred. About 10 million people, mostly foreigners, live in the UAE.

A health ministry official on Thursday asked the public to adhere to social distancing and avoid gatherings and mixing with people known to have the virus which she said accounted for about 88% of cases.

The UAE had earlier enforced strict measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, including locking down tourism hub Dubai for a month and months-long evening curfews nationwide.

Most business and public venues have now reopened with some restrictions, and people must wear a mask outside homes.

Dubai reopened to foreign visitors in July, although airports in the rest of the country remain closed to visitors.

Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital and the largest and richest emirate, has restricted movement into the area to those with a negative COVID-19 test.

Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli; Writing by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Clelia Oziel