Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 27 October 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Oman fines more than 2,500 people over illegal gatherings

Officials say crowds who flout Covid rules are driving new infections

Gatherings that flout social distancing rules are driving Oman’s new rising cases, the Heath Ministry says
Gatherings that flout social distancing rules are driving Oman’s new rising cases, the Heath Ministry says

Oman has fined over 2,500 people in the last two months for gatherings that violate Covid-19 social distancing rules in the sultanate, authorities have disclosed.

The number represents a 33 per cent increase on the previous two months, official statistics show.

In mid-August, cases in Oman rose – with spikes above 1,000 new cases a day – after dropping to just a handful of cases at the start of August. They fell again in early September only to hit 1,400 new cases on September 14. These recent spikes of infections have been blamed on "illegal" gathering at private farms, on beaches and hosting weddings or funerals in private houses.

“None of is safe until all of us are safe. The fact is that people still gather in large numbers does not help reduce the infections,” Health Minister Dr Ahmed Al Saeedi said on state television on Saturday morning. “Actually, because of the illegal gatherings for weddings, funerals and on farms, this has been increasing the rate of infections.”

Organisers of gatherings are fined 1,500 rials (Dh14,900) and each individual person attending the event is fined 100 rials (Dh950).

On Saturday, the death toll from the pandemic in Oman crossed 900. In the last three weeks, an average of 600 people were infected a day, according to the Health Ministry.

As cases fell in August and restrictions were eased, and despite the late August spike, many in Oman began to feel like the pandemic was not a threat. Markets were lively and shops reopened.

Oman has already announced it will open a new field hospital dedicated to Covid-19 patients by the end of September to cope with the influx of new infections needing care.

The 300-bed centre is located in the old Muscat Airport. Next door, the government has already built accommodation for passengers who must enter quarantine when they arrive in the country.

Muscat Airport is expected to open on October 1 for both inbound and outbound flights. Passengers arriving in Muscat airport will have to pay 25 rials (AED 245) for the Covid-19 test. Tourists also need to have medical insurance covering Covid-19 lasting for at least one month.

Updated: September 28, 2020 04:48 AM

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