As the long wait for vaccine roll-out draws to an end, Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Sa’eedi, Minister of Health, vouched for its safety and announced that he will be the first in Oman to get the shot on Sunday. People on the priority list, including frontline workers, will follow.
“I personally believe in the safety of the vaccine. I will take the shot here in Oman on Sunday morning, when the vaccination campaign begins. There will be media coverage of the launch event,” Dr Sa’eedi said.
He informed that the sultanate will receive a consignment of 15,600 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Thursday. The second consignment with 28,000 doses is expected in early January.
“In the first stage, the target groups include those most vulnerable to contracting the virus – frontline workers, people with chronic diseases and the elderly,” Dr Sa’eedi said.
He also informed that the government has no immediate plan to impose a lockdown in Oman in the wake of the new strain of the coronavirus that is spreading in some countries.
“There are no indications to suggest that the new strain of the virus is more dangerous than the previous one. Wearing a mask, social distancing and personal hygiene are permanent solutions,” he said.
“We are closely following up the situation and the decision to close borders was taken as a precautionary measure. Epidemiological surveillance is in place, and if the Supreme Committee decides that there will be a future closure in the sultanate, it will be in limited places.”
According to the minister, the decision to close Oman’s borders was taken after thorough follow-up of the current situation in the wake of a fast-spreading variant of the virus reported in the UK.
“His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik is closely following up the latest developments with regards to the coronavirus. The decisions of the Supreme Committee are based on the epidemiological situation of the virus, and there is continuous follow-up and monitoring,” Dr Sa’eedi said.
On Tuesday, the ministry announced 212 new cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), taking the total to 128,143.
There was one death and 200 recoveries in this period. ‘The number of recoveries has increased to 119,945, while the number of deaths has reached 1,490,’ a ministry statement said.
In an indication of the control over the situation, the number of patients hospitalised has dropped significantly. ‘Currently there are a total of 85 COVID-19 patients admitted in hospitals, including four admissions in the last 24 hours.’ Of the total number of patients hospitalised with the virus, 40 are in ICUs.
According to WHO, COVAX, the global initiative to ensure rapid and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries, has made arrangements to make available nearly 2bn doses to 190 participating economies in the first half of 2021.