Oman to start second phase of vaccination

Sultanate says there have been no deaths from Covid-19 in past two days

A medic prepares a Pfizer-BioTech COVID-19 vaccine injection at a vaccination centre set up in the Kuwait International Fairground in the capital Kuwait City, on December 24, 2020. - Some Gulf countries have started rolling out their vaccination programmes, with Kuwait and Oman announcing they will start inoculating people with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine today and December 27, respectively. (Photo by YASSER AL-ZAYYAT / AFP)
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Oman will begin a second phase of Covid-19 inoculations using Oxford University and AstraZeneca's vaccine from February 7, its Ministry of Health said on Wednesday.

“The campaign in this period is targeting [those] aged 65 and above in all the sultanate’s governorates, regardless of whether they are healthy or suffering from any chronic diseases,” the ministry said.

At the weekend, Oman received 100,000 AstraZeneca doses made under licence in India.

It started its vaccination campaign on December 7 with about 30,000 people inoculated using the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.

On Wednesday, the country reported 171 new cases of Covid-19, bringing the total number 134,856, with no deaths reported over the past two days.

The death toll in Oman stands at 1,532. There are 95 patients in hospital with the virus, including 25 in intensive-care units.

Oman extended the closure of its borders until February 8, after new strains of coronavirus were detected after an initial week-long closure on January 18.

The Minister of Health, Dr Ahmed Al Saidi, on Monday said Oman detected six cases of mutant strains, but did not specify which.

Dr Al Saidi said Oman ordered 2.5 million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and other vaccine makers, while orders for another two million were being made.

On January 28, Oman announced an indefinite ban on public and private gatherings as daily Covid-19 cases increased.

Dr Saif Al Abri, director general of infectious diseases for surveillance and control at the Ministry of Health. said Oman should pay more attention to the new virus mutation.

“One of the challenges we may face is the increase in the number of cases due to the new rapidly spreading mutation," Dr Al Abri said.

"And thus it may cause an increase in pressure on health institutions, whether hospital admissions or intensive care.”