As Oman goes under a lockdown with a new wave of COVID-19 coronavirus cases being registered daily, health experts say that the aim of the tough new measures is to cut down the rate of rising infections in the sultanate, which is overwhelming the country’s healthcare system.
H E Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Sa’eedi, Minister of Health, said the purpose behind the lockdown of all governorates is to cut down on the number of people who might be infected with COVID-19 in Oman. “There is no scientific estimate that the number of infections will come down after a lockdown. However, we are optimistic that the numbers will decline,” he said.
H E Dr Sa’eedi reaffirmed that the eradication of the virus cannot be realised without the cooperation of all, be it government and private sector establishments, society and individuals. “We hope that we will not be compelled to extend the lockdown period. This depends on the outcome of the lockdown,” he added.
He said, that until a vaccine is found, there is no way to be safe except to put preventive measures in place. “The Ministry of Health is taking all necessary steps to get the COVID-19 vaccine, once it becomes available. Around 140 companies or institutions are working on the development and production of the vaccine and four of these firms are making headway at present,” H E Dr Sa’eedi said.
To manage the rising number of infections, and to provide healthcare to all, Dr Sa’eedi said that a field hospital is under development. “No one will be deprived of treatment or hospitalisation, if necessary, and that urgent treatment might even be at the cost of other diseases,” he said.
On the delay in results of COVID-19 tests, he said, “The huge pressure witnessed by medical laboratories is the reason. Though, some seek tests for unnecessary symptoms, I advise any person who has cough, sore throat, fever, muscle or joint pain to consider those symptoms as an infection with COVID-19 and, accordingly, practise self-isolation, irrespective of the result of the tests.”
According to Dr Saif bin Salim al Abri, director general of Disease Control and Surveillance at the Ministry of Health, the current lockdown is crucial as was learnt from the experience during the Eid al Fitr holidays. “During Eid al Fitr, there was an observed rise in number of old-aged people being infected with COVID-19 due to social mixing and family visits,” he said.