Oman has announced a new lockdown as hospital chiefs in the country appeal to local businesses to donate oxygen devices amid a surge in Covid-19 cases.
"We are appealing to companies in the private sector to donate oxygen devices to the government hospitals in our area. Most of them are already being used and we have only a few left and more Covid-19 patients are being admitted all the time," a spokesman from the Directorate General of Health in the Al Dakhliya region, told The National.
Oman on Saturday announced a new lockdown effective from Sunday, ordering people to stay at home. Shops must remain closed from 8pm to 4am, until further notice.
This is the second lockdown in two months. Oman lifted restrictions on June 2, allowing all commercial activities to stay open after 8pm.
Oman does not report cases during the weekend, but the ministry of health said 1,306 patients were being treated with Covid-19 symptoms in hospitals on Thursday, including 382 in intensive care.
On Thursday, the total number of cases registered in the sultanate reached 242,723, including 2,626 deaths.
Private hospitals are also appealing for oxygen devices, saying they are overwhelmed by mostly expatriate patients admitted with serious coronavirus symptoms.
“Most Omani patients go to government hospitals, but the majority of our patients are expatriates,” a spokesman from Al Raffah Hospital said.
"More and more of them are being admitted and we are running out of oxygen machines for those who have severe respiratory problems.
"We are appealing to the private companies to donate the ventilators to cope with the problem. If they do, we will not charge patients for the oxygen but only for the bed and consultation."
Medical practitioners acknowledged that more oxygen devices were needed as infection cases rose across the country.
“Currently, on a bad day, oxygen devices need to be rationed out to Covid-19 patients,” Shamsa Al Harthi, a nurse in the government owned Royal Hospital, said.
"There are not enough to go around to cover all the patients as cases go up. It will be a big help if private companies can help to supply them."
In April, Petroleum Development Oman, the sultanate's biggest oil and gas producer, donated 2.3 million rials ($5.75 million) to the ministry of health to buy vaccines.
"Rich companies like PDO have the cash to help with the oxygen machines," Omani citizen Abdallah Al Nabhani, 42, told The National.
"I am sure PDO, and other rich companies will respond this time as well to help. I understand how vital oxygen is for the recovery of Covid-19 patients because I was hooked up to such a machine in November last year in a government hospital, when infection cases were not that high."
Omanis have urged the ministry of health to announce restrictions to keep the infection cases in check to reduce the number of people visiting markets.
"It makes sense to impose an immediate restriction because of the present situation of rising cases, before it becomes uncontrollable," Moosa Al Adawi, 36, a civil servant and a recovered Covid-19 patient, told The National.