Oman reaches daily high for coronavirus cases in 2021

The number of people being admitted to hospital is on the rise, even as vaccines arrive in the sultanate

Locals stand outside a boutique hotel in the village of Misfat al-Abriyeen which opened its narrow streets six years ago to foreigners and locals seeking adventure in the deserts and green corners of the Gulf sultanate of Oman, on February 8, 2021. Perched on an Oman mountain top, the village of Misfat al-Abriyeen has changed its fortunes by transforming mud-brick homes into boutique hotels, drawing tourists to a region famed for hiking trails and tales of genies. / AFP / MOHAMMED MAHJOUB
Powered by automated translation

Oman broke its daily record for new coronavirus infections this year as it reported 449 new cases.

The new cases on Monday brought the total number of cases registered in the Sultanate to 144,404, the Ministry of Health said.

The toll from the pandemic now stands at 1,594 in Oman, after three people died on Monday, while 134,684 have recovered from the virus.

Hospitals admitted 28 patients in the previous 24 hours, taking the total number of inpatients to 219, including 76 in intensive care.

Omanis told The National they wanted a ban on retail stores opening at night to be extended to a full lockdown to halt the spread of the virus.

“Obviously the current restriction of shop closures in the night is not working since the infection cases are still rising. The government must now introduce another restriction of banning people going out in the evening, too, not just closing the shops,” said Mohammed Al Rahma, 52, who recovered from the coronavirus last month.

Oman ordered all shops and retail outlets to close from 8pm to 5am, between March 4 and March 20, but allowed people movement during that time.

"People still gather by visiting the houses of their friends or relatives since they cannot meet in restaurants or coffee shops," Sharifa Ahmed, 33, a civil servant at the Ministry of Health, said.

“[Many] residents gather in the streets in groups. Everybody must stay home after 8pm for all of us to feel safe and that can only happen with a total night lockdown.”

Oman has already imposed an indefinite land border closure since December as a response to variants found overseas making their way to the sultanate.

It has also closed the eastern Sharqiyah Region for an indefinite period because the number of infections there was increasing.

Oman last week ordered 200,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, approved by the US government on February 27. Unlike other vaccines developed to tackle the virus, it only requires one dose and can be kept in a refrigerator.

It will be offered to people below the age of 66 and schoolteachers, according to the Health Ministry.

The first and second consignments of vaccines received by Oman in recent weeks were only available to people aged 65 and above, those with underlying medical issues and medical workers.

The sultanate began its inoculation campaign with Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines on December 7 and has inoculated 30,000 people.

The second phase of vaccinations kicked off this month with 100,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, made under licence by the Serum Institute of India.

Oman introduced a seven-day mandatory hotel quarantine for all arrivals on February 15.