For the second successive year, Muslims will mark Ramadan in the midst of the pandemic. The spread of COVID-19 has impacted the world’s population including Oman, with governments imposing lockdowns and strict measures to curb the spread.
While many have found ways to adapt to the ‘new normal’ and the roll-out of vaccines has helped in some countries, it is certain that Ramadan this year too will be affected.
Scheduled to begin next week, Ramadan is the most anticipated month in the Islamic calendar with many preparations taking place.
Some of the people that Muscat Daily contacted said Ramadan is the most sacred month and hence deserves adequate preparations.
Amour al Tauqi, whilst shopping for Ramadan, said, “Despite the uncertainty of social life, we believe Ramadan is the most sacred month. So, because of this we have to prepare in a number of ways including mentally. In any case, we welcome the month with eagerness. I’ll finish all my shopping so that I can be free to observer the month.”
Many use the week before Ramadan to stock up on ingredients to make traditional dishes for the duration of the month.
It seems that people are now more accustomed to the pandemic and do not engage in panic-buying.
Salim bin Ali bin Suleim al Hakmani, chairman of the Consumer Protection Authority, made an inspection tour recently at a number of shopping centres in order to find out the availability of goods and their prices, ensure supply, the commitment of suppliers to the laws and decisions issued by the authority before the beginning of Ramadan and the implementation of Value Added Tax starting April 16.
He stressed that price control will witness tightening during the coming period to ensure their stability. Merchants cannot raise prices without justification or obtaining the approval of the authority, especially before the implementation of the tax.
“The authority has prepared a clear action plan in this aspect covering all the markets of the sultanate based on the existing database of commodity prices, especially those not included in the tax. Field work teams have also been formed to inspect shops and commercial centres so that they work in an integrated manner in the follow-up and control of commodity prices,” he said.
However, Ramadan is not just about food. It is also a social occasion, in which family and friends come together. But as COVID-19 cases remain high, with night movement restrictions remaining in place, people will be unable to socialise.
“While many of us will not be able to physically be with our loved ones for the holy month, we are prepared for that and we will be celebrating Ramadan evenings only with our close family members. We have to accept this fact because it is the only way to get rid of this pandemic. It is always better to be safe than sorry,” Ahmed Khalaf said. He added that he will not be having daily iftars at his parents home this year.
On Monday, the Ministry of Health (MoH) reported ten new COVID-19-related deaths, taking the total death toll to 1,722.
The number of new infections reported during the same time was 1,117, taking the total number of cases registered in Oman to 164,274.
The number of hospital admissions is also increasing. As of Monday, a total of 606 patients were admitted in health institutions, including 189 patients in intensive care.
‘While the number of deaths stands at 1,722, the number of recoveries has reached 147,539,’ an MoH statement said.
MoH has also said that a nationwide COVID-19 vaccination campaign is continuing.
The ministry confirmed that 152,036 individuals have been vaccinated with Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines so far.