2020 coronavirus pandemic in Oman
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|First outbreak||Wuhan, Hubei, China|
|Arrival date||24 February 2020|
(1 month and 6 days)
|‡Suspected cases have not been confirmed as being due to this strain by laboratory tests, although some other strains may have been ruled out.|
The 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic was confirmed to have reached Oman in February 2020. As of 28 March, the total number of cases registered in the Sultanate is 167, of which 23 cases have recovered so far.
On 24 February, the first two cases of COVID-19 were confirmed. These cases involved two Omani women who returned from Iran. On 27 February, the number of cases in Oman increased to 6. All cases in Oman are in stable condition so far. The cases were also linked to recent travel to Iran.
On 3 March, the cases increased to 12. Four of the infected patients are Iranian while the rest were Omani citizens. Three new cases recorded were linked to travel in Iran. Two of the cases are of Iranian nationality. To prevent community infections, the country placed 2,367 people under quarantine in early March. Most of the people were under domestic quarantine while 49 were in institutional quarantine.
The government announced on 26 March that that any individuals on a residency permit, visit, business or any short term visas need not worry about expiry-related issues. Due to the pandemic, they would not be subject to any fines or legal actions regarding overstaying in the country.
By the end of March, a total of 7,646 suspect cases were under home quarantine including citizens and expatriates. On 26 March, as the cases surged over 100, Dr. Mohammed bin Said Al Hosni, Undersecretary of Ministry of Health stated in an interview that the country had "entered the community transmission stage of coronavirus and we expect to see the numbers increase over the coming period."
In early March, the Ministry of Health directed all retail outlets, including shopping malls and supermarkets to install sanitizers as a preventive measure against the spread of coronavirus.
Sultan Haitham formed a supreme committee tasked with dealing and responding to the developments resulting from the outbreak. On 12 March, the committee decided that tourist visas will not be issued to citizens of all countries and also stopped entry and docking of cruise ships in country's ports. Furthermore, all sports events were cancelled, court attendance limited to essential personnel and the sale of shisha prohibited in restaurants and cafes. These measures were implemented on March 15 for a period of 30 days.
On 14 March, the committee decided to suspend all classes in schools, universities and other educational institutions from 15 March for 30 days. Another meeting held on the next day announced new restrictions which included stopping the entry of foreigners apart from GCC citizens and foreign residents via all land and sea borders, quarantining all arrivals and the closures of public parks and gardens. It was also declared that Friday prayers are to be stopped and social gatherings like weddings are banned. The decisions went into effect on 17 March. On 16 March, the Royal Hospital stopped treatment services provided for routine non-emergency cases until further notice. Multiple museums around the country were also closed on the day indefinitely.
Starting 18 March, the Sulthanate imposed further restrictions. The entry to the country was restricted only to Omani nationals, and nationals were not allowed to depart to other countries. All places of worship, including mosques were closed. All gatherings, events and conferences were suspended. The government banned public gatherings at all tourism sites and also announced closure of cinemas, gyms, sport clubs, barber shops and all shops in shopping malls apart from foodstuff and medical outlets. The popular souqs at various locations around the country such as Muttrah, Nizwa, Al Rustaq and Sinaw were also ordered to be shut down. Restaurants and coffee shops were also banned from serving food and only allowed takeaway services. Also on the day, The Central Bank of Oman issued a number of directives to all licensed banks and financing leasing companies operating in Oman that it is expected to provide additional available liquidity in a range of RO8 billion, to overcome the prevailing economic conditions.
During mid March, the Royal Oman Police provided an integrated medical team to operate the mobile hospital affiliated to the Directorate General of Medical Services to handle the field cases and suspected cases of COVID-19. On 19 March, all public transport apart from buses and ferries heading to the Governorate of Musandam and the Wilayat of Masirah was suspended.
On 21 March, legal action including detainment was taken against individuals spreading false information regarding the pandemic. Starting from 23 March, the Royal Oman Police stopped all customer services related to civil status, traffic, passports and residency until further notice. The Supreme Committee further issued new measures on 22 March. These included reducing the number of employees present in workplaces in government agencies to not more than 30%, preventing gatherings of all kinds in public places, closures of money exchange services with only banks being responsible for those now along with customer services outlets in all public and private institutions.
On 24 March, the Ministry of Health issued an order for pharmacies to dispense medicine and other items only through the duty window on their main door to stem the outbreak. The Ministry of Transport on Tuesday decided to reduce the number of passengers in taxis in the Sultanate from three to two passengers, excluding the taxi driver until further notice the same day.
Sultan Haitham donated RO10 million for tackling the coronavirus outbreak in the country on 26 March. The National Youth Committee of the country called-on volunteers to aid in the relief and sheltering measures to combat coronavirus (Covid-19) on the same day. Also on the day, the Ministry of Tourism announced that over 40 hotels across the Sultanate had provided around 2,816 hotel rooms to be used as Covid-19 relief and shelters under the supervision of the Ministry of Health. They were to be mainly used as institutional quarantine centres for Omanis arriving from abroad. To prvent community infection, the hotels were divided into three categories, some for asymptomatic individuals, others for suspected cases while a number were dedicated for medical treatment of infected cases.
To further aid in steps to curb the outbreak, medical materials were brought in from the Chinese city of Shenzhen with the help of the Royal Air Force of Oman on 27 March. More similar trips were planned for the future with the aim of strengthening the country's medical resources needed to deal with the pandemic.
The national carrier, Oman Air suspended its flights to multiple countries. On 9 March, all flights to and from Milan, Italy were stopped until further notice. On 12 March, flights between Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate were cancelled until further notice. All flights were cancelled to Bahrain and Egypt starting 19 March until further notice. On 22 March, three new countries were added to the list, India till 28 March, Nepal till 31 March and Pakistan till 4 April. Flights were also suspended to Turkey from 25 March till 31 March.
On 29 March, Omani Air effectively suspended all flights to and from the country until further notice as per decided by the Supreme Committee. The only exception to this was the domestic flights to and from Musandam and its cargo services.
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