Tuesday, December 07
07:26 AM

Situation well managed: One year of COVID-19 in Oman

24 Feb 2021

One year since the first two cases of COVID-19 were detected in Oman, many in the sultanate, including myself, have learnt to focus on staying safe while coping with the situation. For now, we need to refocus. Instead of pondering on the negatives and problems, let’s think of the positives and solutions.

Initially, when the first cases were reported on February 24 last year, it felt like it would be a short-term problem. In fact, we had told ourselves, and our children, that it would be over by summer. But that feeling was short-lived as numbers rose day by day. As weeks turned to months, it became very clear that the pandemic had its own timeline.

As a journalist who has covered the COVID-19 pandemic in Oman, I would say the sultanate is well placed to tackle the situation especially after the setting up of the Supreme Committee dealing with the impact arising as a result of the disease. With due respect to all, I would say the hero of the year-long campaign is Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Sa’eedi, Minister of Health, who has worked day and night to keep us safe – I salute you Sir.

I remember in one of his press conferences, Dr Sa’eedi reiterated His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik’s directives to co-exist, adapt and adjust to the disease, and said that this could not be achieved without the commitment to health instructions and cooperation of all. 

“The virus has changed many of our daily life practices, which may continue for a long time. We have to adapt to the situation in a safe way,” he said.

Dr Sa’eedi reiterated that life would have to go back to normal in one way or another, and I fully agree with him. The health sector in Oman is intact, solid and coping with the pandemic, thanks to the strong support of His Majesty Sultan Haitham, which is evident in the Royal attention accorded not just to the pandemic but all aspects that affect the lives of his people. 

His Majesty the Sultan has also hailed the efforts of various media platforms and all those involved in the national effort to deal with the pandemic and has emphasised that the main goal is to protect all citizens and residents, minimise the impact of COVID-19, protect the Omani economy and ensure the continuity of the private sector with minimal damage.

Owing to absence of adequate treatment for the virus until now, His Majesty the Sultan said it has become important to coexist and adapt to the new situation gradually, which can only be achieved with the cooperation of all members of society in following the necessary precautions and preventive measures. Thank you Your Majesty.

After initially limiting the spread of COVID-19 with lockdowns in many parts of the country last year, the Supreme Committee has since allowed reopening of almost all activities and businesses.

During the year of COVID-19, high risk of infection and uncertainty of the future led to anxiety and physiological pressure manifest as stress, depression and insomnia.

Among those affected were healthcare workers. According to experts, support is needed from everyone to stop the spread of the virus. The public needs to play its role in staying safe. 

“The number of medical staff who suffer from anxiety, insomnia and need psychological care increased. There is a limit to what medical staff can deal with,” Dr Feryal bint Ali al Lawati, head of the Communicable Disease Control Unit at The Royal Hospital, had said.

There are reasons for people in every age group to be cautious, health experts say. In Oman, the youth as well as the elderly have succumbed to the virus and many needed ICU care.

As for social life, COVID-19 has not spared it either. With the ban of gatherings continuing, some have taken advantage of the situation to save wedding expenses that involve big halls, food for many people and related expenses.

I should not end here without saying that Oman is proud of its Royal Oman Police (ROP) personnel for all their efforts during these hard times. 

Our heroes were away from their families during the holy month of Ramadan and Eid to ensure the safe passage of citizens and residents. Our homeland, citizens and residents are always safe in their hands. Saying ‘Thank You’ is not enough once, so I have to say it again, ‘Thank you ROP’.

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