Coronavirus: Oman to reopen borders as vaccinations begin

Health Minister Ahmed Al Saeedi received one of the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Sunday

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Oman will reopen its borders on Tuesday after closing them for a week to halt the spread of a new strain of Covid-19.

The sultanate banned all travel in and out of the country by land, air and sea on December 22.

It took the measure to “protect community members from the severity of the infection and to contain its spreading,” its supreme committee for coronavirus response said last week.

Oman said it suspected that four cases of coronavirus detected last week could be of the new strain.

Its border will reopen at 12midnight and all arrivals must quarantine for a week. Each traveller must have a negative PCR test before flying, be tested on arrival, download and register on Oman’s Covid-19 tracking app Tarassud+.

They must also wear a tracking bracelet if asked to do so.

The government advised citizens and residents to avoid travelling abroad except in cases of “extreme necessity”.

To keep food and other supplies entering, cargo ships and lorries were exempted from the ban.

On Sunday, Oman began immunising residents and citizens against the virus.

Health Minister Ahmed Al Saeedi received one of the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. He and all other recipients will take a second dose after 21 days.

The first delivery of the vaccine contained 15,600 doses, and 28,000 are expected to arrive in January, Mr Al Saeedi said.

The first phase of vaccination is intended to reach 20 per cent of the population. Frontline workers, the elderly and those with chronic conditions will be vaccinated first.

Oman approved the vaccine on December 18. The sultanate has recorded more than 128,600 cases of coronavirus including 1,497 deaths.