Oman extends border closure as coronavirus cases increase

Concern over fast-spreading variants of the virus prompts sultanate to tighten restrictions

This picture shows a partial view of the seaside corniche in the Omani capital Muscat on September 18, 2020. (Photo by Haitham AL-SHUKAIRI / AFP)
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Oman extended its border closure for an indefinite period as the number of coronavirus infections continued to rise, the Oman News Agency said on Monday.
The sultanate first closed its borders for a week on January 18 in response to reports of fast-spreading variants, and the latest decision is the fourth extension.
"In the light of safety for the general public, it has been decided to extend the border closure for an indefinite period as the number of cases are still rising," the Ministry of Health said.
Omanis with underlying medical issues said they wanted the government to order a lockdown to prevent coronavirus spread.

Mohammed Al Lawati, 72, who recently recovered from a heart attack, said: “It is a surge we see now, with 316 cases today.

"We had daily cases under 200 for about a month or so which means many people are not adhering to safety rules. If it goes on like this for the rest of the week, we will need a lockdown to tame the number of infections.”

On Monday, the ministry said it had registered 316 more coronavirus cases and one death from the virus.

The last time Oman reported more than 200 cases on a single day was on December 21, with 264 cases.

Last week, Health Minister Dr Ahmed Al Saeedi ruled out an immediate lockdown but said the matter "was under consideration".
Oman on Sunday began the second phase of vaccination after receiving 100,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured under licence by the Serum Institute of India.
The sultanate began its vaccination campaign using Pfizer-BioNTech inoculations on December 7 and about 30,000 people were vaccinated in the first phase.
On January 28, Oman announced an indefinite ban on public and private gatherings as daily coronavirus case numbers increased.
The sultanate's supreme committee responsible for tackling the pandemic said the ban included education institutions, weddings, conferences, seminars and exhibitions.

The total number of cases in Oman has reached 135,990, including 127,853 recoveries and 1,535 deaths, according to Worldometers.

Twenty-eight patients were sent to hospital during the past 24 hours, taking the total number of patients in hospitals to 136, including 34 in intensive care.