Oman reports record Covid-19 death toll as serious cases climb

Rapid spread of virus sparks calls for more caution and complete lockdown

A man arrives to get vaccinated at the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre in the capital Muscat on June 23, 2021 during the second phase of the national immunisation plan against COVID-19. / AFP / Haitham AL-SHUKAIRI

Oman reported its highest daily death toll from Covid-19 on Monday as experts predicted an uncontrollable spread of the virus unless urgent measures are taken.

The daily update released by the health ministry showed that 46 Covid-19 patients died in the previous 24 hours – the first time there have been more than 40 deaths in one day in the sultanate since the coronavirus pandemic began last year.

The number of confirmed cases rose by 2,243 to 264,302, while the death toll rose to 3,013.

Another 197 Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospital, taking the total number of inpatients to 1,650 including 506 in intensive care.

“We set two records today in our Covid-19 fight – in the number of deaths per day and the number of patients taken to hospital,” said Hassan Al Shamookhi, a statistician and a Covid-19 analyst for the government.

“If we want to win this war, we must take this virus more seriously than we do now. Everybody needs to take responsibility and stay away from crowds otherwise cases will spiral out of control very soon.”

Health Minister Ahmed Al Saaedi said on Sunday that the surge in Covid-19 cases had exhausted the health system. Government and private hospitals appealed last week for more oxygen devices to cope with the number of patients with serious symptoms.

Some Omanis, shocked by the latest figures, urged the government to order a total lockdown.

“This cannot go on like this. It is frightening because the numbers are not going down at all. I call for the authority in charge of Covid-19 to impose a total lockdown immediately before the situation is out of control like in countries like India,” said Khalfan Al Sumri, 52, an engineer in the oil sector.

Dr Al Saaedi said that a lockdown was "the last option” but did not rule it out. He said there were plans to stop civil servants and employees in state companies from reporting to work if they are not vaccinated.

Oman imposed a curfew for the second time in two months on June 20, ordering all commercial activities to close between 8pm and 4am, and people to stay indoors during that time.

Beaches, wedding halls, exhibitions, mosques and public parks were closed until further notice.