Thanks to support from HM, Oman coping well with COVID-19 pandemic: Health Minister
June 6, 2020 | 5:56 PM
by ONA
Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Saeedi, Minister of Health recalled His Majesty the Sultan’s affirmation that the ultimate goal is to protect the health of citizens and residents in the Sultanate. Photo:ONA

Muscat: Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Saeedi, Minister of Health, has said that the health sector in the Sultanate is intact, solid and coping with the pandemic, thanks to the strong support of His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik.

Dr. Ahmed recalled His Majesty the Sultan’s affirmation — when he chaired the meeting of the Supreme Committee — that the ultimate goal is to protect the health of citizens and residents in the Sultanate.

This Royal attention is not restricted to the pandemic (circumstances), but it applies to all conditions, with equal emphasis on sustained performance of the government and private sectors.

The minister reiterated His Majesty the Sultan’s directives to co-exist, adapt and adjust to the disease and that this cannot be achieved without the collaboration of all and commitment to health instructions.

The minister made the statement during the 9th press conference that the Supreme Committee, since the outbreak of the pandemic.

The press conference also saw the participation of Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Shuhi, Minister of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources, Dr. Saif bin Salim Al Abri, Director-General of Disease Control and Surveillance at the Ministry of Health, and Dr. Feryal bint Ali Al Lawati, Senior Consultant at the Communicable Disease Department, Royal Hospital.

The minister also talked about ending lockdown of the Wilayat of Mattrah.

Dr. Ahmed pointed out that the number of hospitalised COVID-19 patients stood at 226, of them 58 are in intensive care. As many as 799 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised since the outbreak of the pandemic, while the number of patients admitted to intensive care units stood at 120.

In reply to queries, the minister said, “Some organisations began to raise questions about the treatment of residents. All expats have to get information from official departments and liaise with their respective ambassadors to the Sultanate. So far, not a single expat patient has been asked to pay even one rial against his treatment for Covid-19. The government is bearing the full cost of treatment of such cases if the expat does not have a sponsor or health insurance. The Sultanate does not discriminate between citizens and residents in treatment or diagnostic tests.”

Al Saidi reaffirmed that the decisions taken by the Sultanate cannot be compared with other countries, since each country has different decisions. The Sultanate exercised lockdown and isolation procedures in a gradual manner, allowing a mindful resumption of different commercial activities, which earned Oman international accolades.

Asked about the monsoon (Khareef) season in Dhofar, the minister said that the Supreme Committee still stands by its decisions not to allow forms of assembling. The lockdown decision is undertaken by the Supreme Committee in accordance with epidemiological data, and the recovery team studies procedures related to all sectors, including tourism.

Change in numbers of positive cases was influenced both positively and negatively, said the minister, who explained that an example of positive factors was the active monitoring by targeting people with respiratory diseases led to a rise in number of those testing positive to COVID-19. The negative factor (uncontrolled increase in number of cases) stemmed from people failing to stick to precautionary measures during the holy month of Ramadhan and the Eid Al Fitr holiday.

The minister pointed out that there is a plan to re-open airports and a committee has been tasked with devising measures and procedures. In case travel is allowed, testing will be performed therein, as well as in government and private health establishments for travelers before they set out on their trips, he explained.

The minister added that a Recovery and Adaptation Team, that stems from the Supreme Committee, has been tasked with setting standards.

As many as 186 health workers contracted COVID-19 through mixing with infected persons and socialization. “I urge those to look after their health so that they could look after the health of others,” the minister said.

In other comments, Dr. Ahmed said that in the Governorate of Muscat, the proportion of expatriate infected persons stood at 75 per cent due to circumstances beyond their will. “Companies have a responsibility to protect the health of their respective workers,” said the minister.

Dr. Ahmed referred to a plan to increase the number of beds in Intensive Care Units.

The minister said that the basic health programs of the Sultanate have not been affected, including the vaccination programme, which, he explained, achieved 99 per cent coverage of target groups — a very high percentage at the global level.

On his turn, Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Shuhi, Minister of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources said that two packages (including 70 commercial activities) were reopened, as one more package to be unveiled soon. He pointed out that 988 violations were registered till May, adding that a committee was formed by the Council of Ministers to study the condition of labour residences. The committee presented its recommendations on this regard, the minister said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Saif bin Salim Al Abri, Director General of Disease Surveillance and Control at MOH said that there is a progress in the epidemiological situation in the Wilayat of Mattrah as the health isolation will be lifted gradually except some parts from Al Hamriya and old town of Mattrah.

Mattrah was locked down since the beginning of April as more than 4,000 positive cases were registered in the Wilaya till yesterday, Al Abri pointed out.

Dr. Al Abri added that COVID-19 tests will be available in 5 specialised and approved health centres affiliated to the private sectors, pointing out that these centres will be unveiled soon.

Dr. Feryal bint Ali al-Lawati, Senior Consultant of the Communicable Disease Control Unit at the Royal Hospital said that 326 patients with coronavirus in the Sultanate took hydroxychloroquine and we have not seen any serious complications on them. She affirmed that no deaths associated directly with intake of this medicine have been recorded. She pointed out in the Sultanate, a different dose in taken compared to the other doses revealed by the studies that warn about this drug.

She further said that convalescent plasma treatment has been used with 40 patients till now. She added that 28 patients have benefited from this treatment whereas the remaining patients are waiting for the results, as the patient needs 14 days till the results appear completely.

She also affirmed that there is no scientific evidence that the strength of the virus is getting weaker and there is no evidence that people who recovered from coronavirus contracted the same for a second time. She also added that the cases attracted the virus for a second time and announced by media needs to be proved by a scientific study.

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