Monday, January 17
07:45 PM

‘Epidemiological situation serious’


Muscat – Though most citizens have received both doses of vaccine against COVID-19, the situation in Oman continues to remain serious with a steady rise in new cases despite a low and stable daily infection count in the past few weeks.

Addressing a press conference on Monday, H E Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Sa’eedi, Minister of Health, said, “There is a doubling in the number of cases and the epidemiological situation is still serious. This will put pressure on health institutions. If we want the new year to be better, we must all strive to preserve our health sector by adopting precautionary measures.”

According to the minister, decisions to close and tighten measures can be expected but the Supreme Committee relies on creating awareness. “We don’t want to take decisions that might affect the economy and social life, but we will take appropriate action if we are forced to do so. Each of us must bear the responsibility of protecting ourselves and society.”

On the new variant, H E Dr Sa’eedi said, “Preliminary investigations indicate that Omicron may be less severe and dangerous, but its fast spread will exhaust health institutions if we don’t comply as required.”

Reiterating the importance of vaccination, he said, “I urge everyone to take the booster dose, especially those who have chronic diseases, the elderly, workers in the health sector and other sectors that deal with the public directly.”

However, he clarified that the third or booster dose is not mandatory as the Supreme Committee has not taken a direction on the matter yet. “But studies indicate that it is necessary in light of the presence of a new variant of COVID-19,” H E Dr Sa’eedi said.

On vaccine uptake, he informed that most citizens have received two doses; ten per cent are yet to get their second dose.

H E Dr Sa’eedi also said that vaccination centres are open in all governorates for all. “Vaccines are available free of charge to citizens and residents. There is no excuse for not taking the vaccine,” he said, without specifying if the booster dose is free of charge for residents too.

69 new cases

The Ministry of Health registered 69 new cases of COVID-19 in a 24-hour period on Monday. With this, the total number of cases in the country rose to 305,174. No deaths were reported on Monday, keeping the total number of COVID-19-related deaths in Oman at 4,114.

90 suspected Omicron cases under investigation

There are 90 suspected Omicron cases currently in the country and patients who contracted COVID-19 and recovered can be reinfected with the new variant of the virus, according to Dr Saif bin Salim al Abri, director general of Disease Surveillance and Control in the Ministry of Health.

“The Omicron variant can infect previously infected individuals. There are 16 confirmed Omicron cases and 90 suspected cases. They are currently undergoing genetic sequencing. The infections are very mild,” Dr Abri said addressing a Ministry of Health press conference on Monday.

He added that all the patients are vaccinated and in “good health which is reassuring”.

“Getting vaccinated does not mean you won’t get infected with the virus. Having fortifications is a protective element. This is in addition to preventive measures such as wearing a face mask, washing hands and physical distancing,” he added.

Booster dose increases immunity by up to 75%

Urging everyone to take vaccines on time and to opt for the booster dose, Bader bin Saif al Rawahi, director of communicable diseases in the Ministry of Health, said on Monday that the third jab increases immunity by up to 75 per cent.

“Studies show that two doses of vaccines give around 22 per cent immunity against the Omicron variant, while it increases up to 75 per cent with the third dose,” he said.

Rawahi also said no study showed undesirable side effects, including fainting. According to him, as many as 95,277 individuals have received the booster dose so far. “Only four per cent of people in Oman have been vaccinated with the third dose.”

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