Oman’s health workers banned from resigning amid Covid surge

Oman’s Human Rights Commission said the ban on resignations was legal

A medical worker collects a swab sample from a passenger for a RT-PCR Coronavirus test at the Muscat international airport in the Omani capital on October 1, 2020. (Photo by MOHAMMED MAHJOUB / AFP)

Oman has stopped accepting resignations from medical workers until further notice, as it tries to curb coronavirus cases.

A memo was sent to medical institutions in the sultanate advising them of this.

The authorities said the coronavirus pandemic had made the restriction necessary.

"In view of the current conditions of the pandemic, and what the indicators show of the accelerating rise in the number of cases infected with Covid-19 … it is decided to stop receiving resignation requests submitted by the occupants of medical and auxiliary medical posts from Omanis until further notice," the circular said.

It did not give further details nor indicate how many medical workers have attempted to tender their resignations and been rejected, government hospital administration officers told The National.

Some Omani medics say they are under extreme pressure as hospitals fill with coronavirus patients.

"I tendered my resignation last week but it was rejected," an Omani nurse in a government hospital, who declined to be identified, told The National.

“It has been overwhelming for me in the past 60 days or so. Cases have been increasing and we are really stretched.

"We don’t really have time for a break. Our eight-hour shifts sometimes stretch to 12 hours and it is very tiring.”

The number of people being admitted to hospitals with Covid-19 increased by almost 60 per cent in April, the Ministry of Health said – with 821 patients treated, compared with 515 in March.

The total number of deaths also increased, from 108 in March to 343 in April.

Oman’s Human Rights Commission said the ban on resignations was legal.

"In a national emergency – which the pandemic is – the Omani government has the right to withhold resignations of civil servants who are deemed critical for a particular service for a limited period of time, until that emergency is lifted," a spokesman told The National.

Ministry of Health officials were not available for comment.

Medics said despite the strain, they were determined to continue.

"Some of us are near the breaking point," said a recently graduated Omani doctor.

"I am not surprised some of my colleagues want to resign."

“I also contemplated resigning in the past month, but I have changed my mind. I still want to go on helping people.

"It is a sacred job and we must go on at all costs.”

In a bid to lower infection cases, Oman is introducing a longer curfew, between 7pm and 4am, from May 8 to 15.

This will replace the current 9pm to 4am restrictions.

Oman on Tuesday reported 902 new infection cases and nine deaths.

The total number of cases  has now reached 196,802. There have been 2,062 deaths from the coronavirus.

In the latest 24-hours reporting period, hospitals admitted 93 patients suffering from the virus, taking the total number of Covid-19 inpatients to 813, including 287 in intensive care.

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