Live updates: follow the latest news on Covid-19 variant Omicron
Oman has registered its first two cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, the Ministry of Health announced on Monday.
It came as the sultanate announced a booster vaccination programme for people over the age of 18.
Concern is growing worldwide over the fast-spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Also on Monday, University of Oxford scientists found that two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines elicited lower levels of antibodies against the new variant, increasing the risk of infection.
The booster will be available to people in the sultanate who already had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. The second dose must have been given in the past six months, the government told Oman TV.
The Ministry of Health ordered all indoor public places, including malls, shops, schools, hotels and mosques, to return to 50 per cent capacity until further notice.
Oman on Monday reported 10 new Covid-19 infections and no deaths. The total number of positive Covid-19 cases in the Sultanate is now 304,724.
“We cannot assume that we will not contact the Omicron virus when it is already spreading in other countries," Hashil Al Subhi, 44, a schoolteacher in Barka, told The National. "I am planning to take it this week just to be on the safe side.”
The Omicron variant has been reported in 57 nations and the number of patients needing hospital care is likely to rise as it spreads, according to the World Health Organisation, with Africa reporting 46 per cent of all cases globally.