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Infections, deaths surge; 536 new cases reported

16 Sep 2020

The Ministry of Health (MoH) has renewed its call to people to wear masks and maintain physical distancing as the number of new COVID-19 cases rose in recent days. Oman reported 536 new cases on Wednesday, after weeks of recording fewer than 200 cases daily. 

Dr Ahmed al Mandhari, regional director of World Health Organization (WHO), also urged caution, saying, “The situation in the Eastern Mediterranean Region is extremely worrying with more people being infected every day.” 

In the period starting September 1 to 8, the average number of cases recorded were 200, which rose to over 300 on September 9 and 10 and further jumped to over 400 cases from September 11 to 15. 

On September 16, the country registered 536 cases, besides eight new deaths. The total number of deaths due to COVID-19 in Oman now stands at 805.

According to an MoH statement, the total number of cases as of Wednesday was 91,196, while the number of recoveries stood at 84,363. A total of 488 patients are admitted in health institutions, besides 179 patients currently in ICU.

H E Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Sa’eedi, Minister of Health and member of the Supreme Committee, said that the infection and mortality rate figures are fluctuating and beginning to rise again. 

“Oman is experiencing the first wave. We hope that the new high is provisional, not constant. A second wave of coronavirus is inevitable, but we can avoid it through full commitment to precautionary measures such as wearing face masks and following healthy habits,” he said last week.

He informed that the government is not considering partial or total lockdowns. “Any further lockdown that might turn out to be necessary in the future, God forbid, will entail serious losses for the national economy. We are not thinking about another lockdown. We realise that it’ll have a great impact.” 

In a media briefing on Tuesday about the region, Dr Mandhari said, the ‘significant increase’ in cases in some countries, including Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates is especially concerning, and highlights an urgent need for more rigorous action. 

While this spike in cases is attributed to countries easing restrictions after months of lockdowns that has increased population mobility, governments cannot continue to respond as they have been doing since the start of the pandemic.

“It is no longer enough to only test people coming to hospitals and clinics who are already displaying symptoms. The more people who are tested, the more cases appropriately identified, isolated and the more contacts who are traced, the more effective the efforts at containing transmission will be,” Dr Mandhari said.

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