Only 14 intensive care beds remain free in Oman as Covid-19 surges

Minister of health blames new variants and lack of compliance with safety measures for the rise in cases

Port Sultan Qaboos in Muscat. VAT will help Oman generate about 400 million Omani riyals ($1 billion) in revenue annually. AFP
Port Sultan Qaboos in Muscat. VAT will help Oman generate about 400 million Omani riyals ($1 billion) in revenue annually. AFP

Hospital beds are filling in Oman as Covid-19 cases soar, the sultanate’s health minister said on Tuesday.

“The capacity of the intensive care units will run out if the situation remains like this,” Dr Ahmed Al Saidi said.

“The reasons behind the hike in numbers are the new strains as the virus has mutated more than once. Additionally, there has been non-compliance with the precautionary measures [prohibiting behaviour] such as gatherings and failure to wear a mask,” Dr Al Saidi said.

The Ministry of Health reported 1,335 new cases of coronavirus and nine deaths on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 174,364 including 154,771 recoveries and 1,798 deaths.

On Tuesday, 101 people were admitted to hospital with the disease, 250 of them to intensive care, bringing the total number of inpatients to 759.

This increase leaves only 14 beds in Oman’s intensive care units available, an internal ministry memo reported, according to medical sources.

“About 96 per cent of the beds in the intensive care are now occupied because of the increased number of patients admitted in the hospitals. The alternative is now to convert beds which are reserved for general patients into coronavirus units,” the Ministry of Health said in a statement.

Medical workers say hospitals are at breaking point.

“We are severely stretched out at the moment. We have about 760 coronavirus patients in hospitals and that is a record,” said Latifa Muhammed, 33, a nurse at Khoula Hospital.

“The challenge we are facing now is the new strain of the mutant virus, which is on the rise. We get more of these patients now than in the last two months.”

Other nurses say the pressure will increase during the holy month.

“Ramadan is knocking on the door and the energy level is less, since most of the medical workers fast during daylight,” said Ali Al Shaabani, 55, who works at Nahdha hospital.

“Also, we know that Omanis like to gather more in Ramadan and I am sure the cases of infection will rise in that period of time to put more pressure to the medical workers and the hospital facilities.”

Muslims in Oman will observe Ramadan from Wednesday. The sultanate has imposed a night lockdown from 9pm to 4am during the holy month.

Ramadan around the region - in pictures

Updated: April 13, 2021 08:03 PM

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