Coronavirus: Oman's cases climb by nearly 600 a day

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Oman reported a big rise in daily coronavirus cases on Sunday with 1,722 infections and 28 deaths from the virus recorded in the previous 72 hours.

The sultanate’s tally now stands at 93,475 cases and 846 deaths, while 85,418 people have recovered. A total of 554 people are in hospital, including 64 admitted in the previous 24 hours, and 172 were in intensive care, Oman’s health ministry said on Sunday.

Oman’s infections dropped to just under 200 cases a day in the first week of September. Despite the recent increase in infections, most people no longer consider the pandemic a threat, the health ministry said.

“It is important that everyone understands Covid-19 is still here. Everybody must still follow the basic regulations and stay safe all the time. It is the effort of everyone in the country and not just a few people, to stay alert all the time,” a statement from the ministry said.

But ordinary people on the streets blame the ministry for “relaxing” the rules as the reason behind the latest spike in infections.

“There is no point enforcing it while they open up mall and restaurants. This is the reason why most people do not take the virus seriously anymore. In addition, schools will be opened in November and the airport will start to operate next month,” said Fareed Al Alawi, 37, a chemical engineer based in the capital, Muscat.

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The government has said Muscat airport will start operating flights from October 1. The national airline, Oman Air, said it will start flying to 12 destinations in the first phase then gradually expand to include more destinations.

Salam Air, Oman’s second airline, will also start flying to limited destinations that day. The Civil Aviation Authority said foreign airlines operating in Oman will be allowed to fly from Muscat twice a week.

With the latest spike in cases, the authorities will enforce the closure of shops and restaurants that breach the pandemic rules.

Authorities fined more than 25 businesses in the past week and cautioned many other for breaking the rules. Authorities also fined shoppers in malls for failing to follow social distancing rules. Some vendors were fined for not wearing masks.

Health inspectors visited more than 500 business premises in the past week to make sure shop assistants and their managers were following the Covid-19 regulations.

Businessmen said the government should not be blamed for allowing malls and restaurants to open.

“Those critics who blame authorities for opening up too fast are wrong. We have to defend the fact that the economy needs to restart,” Salim Al Dugheishi, 52, a computer supplier in Muscat, said.

“The rise of infections is not caused by the opening up of businesses but people who ignore the social distancing rules or gather around in groups without wearing masks.”

Updated: September 20, 2020 10:40 PM

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