Don’t let your guard down as COVID cases rise

Oman Monday 27/December/2021 23:30 PM
By: Times News Service

Muscat: Getting vaccinated with booster doses, and self-isolating at home in case of symptoms such as fever, sore throat, and runny nose are just two of the steps people can take to protect themselves and others against the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

As infection rates in Oman increase steadily, the country’s top health experts have asked people to continue to adopt the advised precautions against the virus to help bring numbers down.

At a press conference organised by the Supreme Committee, Minister of Health Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Sa’eedi said several Omicron infections had been seen in Oman.

“Compared to other COVID variants, preliminary indications tell us that the severity of Omicron may be less dangerous, yet its fast prevalence will exhaust health institutions if we do not comply as required,” he explained.

On Sunday, December 26, Oman reported 69 people testing positive for COVID-19, with one admitted to the hospital.

There are 11 patients admitted to healthcare centres, and two in intensive care. The country also reported its first death from the virus after 49 days of no casualties from the disease.

“A case of the death of an unvaccinated patient was reported over the past two days,” said the Minister of Health.

As part of measures adopted to curb the spread of the coronavirus, people who are not vaccinated with two doses will not be allowed to enter their places of work.

Vaccination centres are open in all wilayats of the country, free of charge to both Omanis and expatriates.

“The decisions of the Supreme Committee are based on scientific foundations,” explained Al Sa’eedi. “We rely a lot on the awareness of the citizens and residents of our beloved country. Everyone is aware of the seriousness of the virus, and the preventive measures to contain it. “There is no excuse for not taking the vaccination,” he added.

“So far, there is no tendency to make the third and booster dose mandatory, but studies have shown that this dose does increase protection against the Omicron variant.”

Adding to this, Dr Saif bin Salim Al Abri, the Director General of Disease Surveillance and Control at the Ministry of Health, said that the Omicron variant could reinfect those who have previously contracted and recovered from the disease.

“Vaccines are mainly designed to curb deaths, so infections of vaccinated people are normal,” he said. 

“Compared to the Alpha variant, Omicron is milder, but it’s fast prevalence is dangerous, so we expect an increase in admissions, which may exhaust the health sector.” The DG added that people who had been vaccinated, and had tested positive for Omicron had mild symptoms, and were not admitted to hospitals.  There are 13 health centres across Oman’s 11 governorates that collect specimens from COVID-19 infections.  Lab tests do provide indication about the virus, which in turn can be used to work on its genetic strains.

In this context, Bader bin Saif Al Rawahi, the Director of Communicable Diseases at the Ministry of Health, added that the third vaccine dose is especially crucial for people receiving immunosuppressive treatments.

“This is given to people one to three months after they receive their second dose,” he said, “However, a booster dose is for everyone over the age of 18, and strengthens their immune system. We expect that we can contain the Omicron variant if the majority receive the third and booster doses.

“In order to reach societal immunity, we need to increase the number of vaccinated people in Oman,” he added.

“Four percent of target groups have received the third and booster doses.”