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Heading for a second wave?

26 Sep 2020

As COVID-19 infections rise, authorities and health experts in Oman have warned that the disease is still here and that there is need for more caution to avert a second wave.

According to the Supreme Committee in charge of tackling issues pertaining to COVID-19, the rise in infections is due to the lack of compliance with instructions and precautions. 

‘The Supreme Committee stresses the need for everyone to adhere to all the precautionary measures issued by the competent authorities. Every individual has a responsibility to protect himself, his family and his community from infection,’ the committee said in a statement.

As most activities are now open for business, health experts say Oman could be at risk of a second wave of the outbreak if citizens and residents do not adhere to the precautionary measures strictly to prevent the spread of the virus. 

September started with an average of 200 cases a day which increased to over 500 cases on September 17 and further rose to over 600 on September 22.

On Thursday, H E Dr Ahmed Mohammed al Sa’eedi, Minister of Health and member of the Supreme Committee on COVID-19, informed that Oman had 190 coronavirus patients in intensive care units for the first time.  “The recovery rate has decreased from 94 to 91 per cent due to the increase in cases,” he said.

“There is clear disregard for social distancing and other rules in public places. The numbers do not mean that institutions have failed in their duty, but cases are increasing in the world and it is overburdening the health sector. 

“The return of employees to work and opening of commercial activities are leading to the spread of the virus, but the main reason is the lack of compliance with precautionary measures like social distancing,” he added.

H E Dr Sa’eedi called on all government and private sector companies to follow the decisions and guidelines to limit the spread of the virus. “There is a group of people that continues to hold parties in farms, rest houses and closed places. They gather in beaches and public places. Perhaps we will have to resort to partial closure of some hotspot areas in the future as there is clear disregard for social distancing and other rules in public,” he said.

Speaking to Muscat Daily, Dr Sulaiman al Shereiqi, senior specialist in public health in MoH, said the virus should not be taken lightly, especially now. “We should not take these measures casually now,” he said.

“There is an urgent need for adherence to the public health measures against the spread of COVID-19 virus such as wearing face mask when mixing with people, washing hands with soap and water frequently and quarantining whenever infected or suspected to be infected. All these should have a dramatic effect on preventing or at least lowering the peak of the second wave,” he added.

Following the rise in the number of infections in the past weeks, health authorities called on citizens and residents not to be complacent urging strict compliance with safety guidelines – wear masks, avoid gatherings and follow social distancing norms.

The surge in cases is attributed to countries easing restrictions after months of lockdowns resulting in increased population mobility, which in turn has made prevention and control of the disease difficult. 

According to health professionals, there is no difference in methods of prevention between the first and second waves of the disease. Dr K P Raman, chairman of Al Hayat International Hospital, said, “The principles are the same – wearing masks, social distancing and hand sanitisation.”

He hoped that the virus will become less virulent. “A vaccine will arrive soon and some new anti-COVID-19 drugs will be discovered. Also, immunity will develop as more and more people get infected. However, so many things are unknown and uncertain about this new virus. So we must stay positive and hope for the best.”

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