France thanks Omani doctor 'friends' for help during coronavirus outbreak

Omani doctors training in a variety of specialisms have remained in France during the outbreak

Health workers wearing protective gear ransport a patient on a stretcher toward a tent used as the reception of the emergency services of the Aix Hospital Centre (Centre Hospitalier du Pays d'Aix) in Aix-en-Provence, southern France, on April 3, 2020, on the eighteenth day of a lockdown in France aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection caused by the novel coronavirus.  / AFP / CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU
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The French embassy in Muscat has thanked Omani doctors who chose to stay in France to help with the coronavirus outbreak.

France has run a medical residency programme for Omani doctors wishing to specialise in a variety of medical fields for nine years.

Residents on the programme commit to the same training as their French counterparts and are expected to bring their skills back to the Omani medical system.

When coronavirus began to spread, the current cohort of 50 doctors under the programme could have returned home.

'At the time of the COVID-19 crisis, the vast majority of these Omani doctors made the choice to stay in France, in hospitals, alongside their French colleagues to fight the disease and save lives,” a statement from the French embassy in Muscat read.

“A big thank you to our Omani friends who show solidarity and courage with the French people.'

France has over 83,000 cases of coronavirus, and over 6,500 have died, but there is cause for hope- 14,000 people have recovered from the virus.

In Oman, the numbers are much smaller, reflecting the difference in population size.

On Saturday Oman confirmed 25 new cases, bringing the country’s total to 227. A 72-year-old man is Oman’s only death from the virus, and 61 people have recovered, the country’s Ministry of Health confirmed.

France and Oman have enjoyed good relations since the mid-17th Century, when French vessels stopped in the Port of Muscat en route to India and the Arab Gulf.

A shared love of culture between late Sultan Qaboos bin Said and various French leaders has led to various exchanges, most notably Sultan Qaboos' 2012 role in financing the Islamic section of the Louvre Museum.

Muscat also features the Omani-French Museum, located close to Al Alam Palace.

In fear of becoming the next centre of the crisis like neighbour Italy, France imposed a nationwide lockdown with accompanying fines for rule breakers. Drones and police monitor streets and beaches for those flouting the guidelines.

Similarly, Oman has banned public gatherings and instructed government agencies to reduce staff levels to 30 per cent, and imposed a lockdown.

Oman's government has also assured the public that food stocks are sufficient and its port operations are running smoothly.

It has been in touch with several traders to buy more stocks and is providing storage space for free, a trade ministry official told state television.

The ministry is also co-ordinating with police to make sure the flow of commodities via trucks is normal, he said.