DUBAI (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates plans to test two million people, or about 20% of the population, for the novel coronavirus over the next two months after the infection rate climbed again following the lifting of restrictions, a government spokesperson said.
The regional business and tourism hub on June 24 removed a nationwide curfew in place since mid-March. It has gradually reopened commercial businesses and public venues and the emirate, or state, of Dubai is set reopen to foreign visitors on Tuesday.
“While it is worrying to see a slight increase in cases in the past few days, it is a reminder that we all should be responsible and committed to follow health practices,” government spokesperson Amna al-Shamsi said late on Monday.
“UAE health authorities continue to increase testing capacity for Covid-19, with additional 2 million tests to be performed in the coming two months, across the country,” she said in comments carried on the government Twitter account.
The UAE recorded 528 new cases on Monday, taking its tally to 52,068 with 324 deaths. The daily infection rate had dropped from a peak of over 900 in late May to average between 300 to 400, but rose over the weekend to some 700.
Dubai’s move to allow foreign visitors has not been implemented on the federal level in the UAE, which does not provide a breakdown of coronavirus cases for each of its seven emirates.
Abu Dhabi, the largest and richest emirate, has restricted movement into the UAE capital, with people residing outside the emirate required to obtain a permit showing a negative COVID-19 test.
Neighbouring Saudi Arabia has the highest count among the six Gulf Arab states at more than 213,700 infections with 1,968 deaths as of Monday.
(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell. Editing by Gerry Doyle)