As masks come off in Oman, people breathe a sigh of relief

Oman Monday 23/May/2022 23:30 PM
By: Times News Service
As masks come off in Oman, people breathe a sigh of relief
Illustrative image

Muscat: Walk in to Dr Basheer’s clinic at Badr Al Sama’a Hospital in Ruwi, and you will see him masked up, much as he was before the decision issued by the Supreme Committee on 22 May, regarding the removal of all curbs relating to COVID-19, including the wearing of masks, and limited seating at large-scale events.

There is, however, one key difference: Basheer and his colleagues are now wearing their masks voluntarily…a habit he feels will continue for a few months. Already, however, many people are enjoying the newfound relief that comes with the end of COVID protocols, because of what they represent.

“You will see people continue to wear masks out of habit or precaution for about another three or four months, and then they will wean themselves off this practice,” said Basheer, an internist by profession.

“For medical facilities, there are as yet no guidelines in place, so my staff and I have voluntarily decided to continue wearing them.

“Among the patients, however, we saw far more people coming in without masks on, but we still recommend that those who have symptoms similar to fevers and colds still wear masks especially in hospitals, because these can be transmitted through aerosols.”

A quick pop-in to most supermarkets shows that there is a significant drop in the number of people wearing masks…ditto for people entering restaurants.

“To me, the mask of course is a safety and precautionary measure,” said Hamed, an expatriate shopping mask-free at a department store in Qurum. “I understand why there was a need to enact mask-wearing around the world, but I think that as long as mask-wearing was a requirement, they also represented uncertainty because they were so closely linked with the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Mohsin, an Omani national, added: “Step by step, more and more measures taken during the COVID-19 pandemic have been lifted, as the impact has eased over time. With the lifting of each measure, we were provided more hope and positivity for the future. I think one of the biggest steps taken was the return of children to physical classes, because that represented hope for both us and our children.

“Similarly, the announcement concerning the removal of masks, as well as other precautionary mechanisms such as social distancing, is a great step towards normalcy,” he said. “Of course, I am aware that it will mean different things for different people, and let us not forget the lessons that we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, so that we are not destined to repeat our mistakes again.”

As part of the lifting of these measures, the Supreme Committee also advised people in Oman to take the third (booster) dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. In the event someone experiences fever-like or respiratory symptoms, they are advised to stay at home, prevent mingling with others, and wear a face mask while in crowded places.

The regulations concerning the compulsory wearing of face masks have also been lifted in mosques, where everyone, including children aged 12 and under, can enter.