With the announcement of daily COVID-19 cases on Wednesday came a stark reality check that the number of new cases had doubled in a day. Following this, the importance of the government’s call to adhere to preventive measures, specially social distancing, cannot be over emphasised.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) has been constantly reminding that the disease is still spreading and there is a need to follow precautionary measures to slow it down. The number of new cases on Wednesday more than doubled to 298 from 148 on Tuesday, taking the total to 4,019, including 17 deaths.
The ministry has been telling people that the risk is increasing for community infection and calling on people to act responsibly to contain it. “Following the spate in new cases daily, Oman has been maintaining the intensity of its precautionary measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. I will keep repeating that people need to take precautionary measures because the virus is still spreading,” H E Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Sa’eedi, Minister of Health, said.
H E Dr Sa’eedi had stressed the need to be committed to health isolation and social distancing. “(Doing this,) we will be able to prevent ourselves, our families and our community from the spread of COVID-19 further,” he said.
The minister had stated that the epidemiological graphs show that the number of daily positive cases will peak to 1,500 cases, of which 500 will need to be hospitalised, and 150 likely to need intensive care. “However, Oman is not expected to record such numbers if precautionary measures are followed,” he had said.
In his recent comments, the minister reiterted, “Lockdown is a standard measure implemented by the departments concerned in a bid to stall the spread of the virus, a step hailed by various global parties. But social distancing is the key.”
The authorities have left no stone unturned to make sure preventive measures are in place. Muscat Municipality issued a decision for commercial centres to adhere to health requirements, including providing face masks to shoppers. It also stipulated that all commercial centers are obliged to adhere to a number of other health requirements, including making face masks a must while entering the commercial centres. An administrative fine of up to RO2,000 will be imposed against those who fail to follow such requirements.
Before Wednesday, the infection curve was ticking up slowly, thanks to restrictive measures and by committing to the social distancing and other preventive measures, according to H E Dr Mohammed bin Saif al Hosni, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Health.
He explained that the peak of the pandemic is the period when a country records the highest number of COVID-19 cases. “Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the sultanate, the infection rate has hovered around 1.2 and 1.4, which means 10 coronavirus patients can transmit the disease to 12-14 other people. According to the indicators, social and physical distancing measures were more effective among Omanis than residents,” he pointed out.
A previously announced ban on mass gatherings ahead of the start of Ramadan remains in place and individuals are advised to avoid all gatherings while mosques remain closed for the duration of Ramadan.
In this regard, the ROP has advised all to take preventive measures and report any unwanted gatherings. “We call upon the public to contact us if they observe any unhealthy activities going on among the public,” the ROP has stated.