Muscat: The member of the Majlis Al Shura who has organised efforts to vaccinate taxi drivers is hopeful they can be vaccinated soon, because they deal with many people on a daily basis, and therefore have increased exposure to the coronavirus.
Aziz Salim Al Hasani, the Shura member for wilayat Bausher, said about OMR50,000 had been provided to vaccinate taxi drivers in the country. However, given that there are more than 30,000 Omanis who work as cab drivers, more funds will be needed to provide them vaccinations, particularly because the services they provide are vital.
“This amount of OMR50,000 will be enough to vaccinate some taxi drivers, but not all,” he said. “With regards to other drivers, I recommend a coordination campaign with the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology because they are aware of the drivers and their addresses, and so have all the information about them.”
Jewellery company Malabar Gold and Diamonds contacted Al Hasani and offered to contribute the OMR50,000 required to vaccinate some taxi drivers. His efforts have been recognised by the Ministry of Health, after he posted a tweet saying he had secured funding.
“Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Saidi, the Minister of Health contacted me on the same night I posted the tweet, and asked a coordinator from the ministry to work with me to complete the procedures required for this vaccination effort,” he said. “I have also submitted a letter to the minister, explaining that the company wishes to send him a cheque worth OMR50,000,” he added.
“I presented a proposal to vaccinate the 2,000 taxi drivers who work in ports, hotels, and airports, because they often mix with visitors, especially those expatriates who use their services to go to their place of institutional quarantine. To prevent the disease being transmitted to them, it is important to vaccinate those who drive taxis.”
“We must also remember that they mingle with other people throughout the day, and then go to their homes, where they meet their children, wives, and even elderly people, and so might pass on the virus to them,” he explained.
Al Hasani also remains confident that the Ministry of Health will create a plan for the vaccination of cab drivers, and thanked Malabar Gold and Diamonds for their generous donation.
“This is a company that operates in Oman, and has several branches across the country,” he said.
"They are an integral part of the country and are doing it out of benefit for the community, so let people not think we are dealing with a company that only operates outside the Sultanate.”
The Shura Council member also hoped the ministry would speed up the rates of vaccinations for taxi drivers, as well as those in other professions who interact with large numbers of people, to protect both themselves and others from the spread of the virus.
“Whether it is members of the Omani community, people from our expatriate societies, or visitors to our country, taxi drivers interact with all of them and are therefore among those people who are most exposed to the virus,” said Al Hasani. “Therefore, their immunisation needs to be a matter of national importance.”
In the meantime, he asked taxi drivers to remember to follow the precautions against COVID-19, as well as ignore rumours about vaccines and the virus that are often spread on social media, particularly when it came to infections and deaths from the disease.