Oman: testing for coronavirus reduced

The sultanate said testing at government hospitals would only be available for those with severe symptoms

Passengers have their temperatures checked at Muscat International Airport. AFP
Passengers have their temperatures checked at Muscat International Airport. AFP

Oman's Ministry of Health said on Monday that government hospitals would stop testing people with mild symptoms for coronavirus to free up medical staff to work with patients suffering from the virus in intensive care.

On Monday, Oman recorded 1,053 new infected cases with 9 deaths. The total number of infected people has reached 77,058. A total of 393 died from the virus and the official statistics show that nearly 80 of them died in the last two weeks from the coronavirus.

The government advised those with mild symptoms to isolate at home. Those with severe symptoms should still attend the hospital.

“People showing symptoms of Covid-19 will isolate themselves for ten days, and coronavirus tests in government hospitals will be reserved only for medical staff and hospitalised patients,” the Ministry of Health said.

It said people who suspect they have coronavirus would need to go to private hospitals for testing. A test in a private hospital costs 70 rials (Dh693).

The Ministry of Health did not elaborate further but medical experts say that government hospitals were overwhelmed with a large number of people asking for testing on a daily basis.

“With many new infected cases that exceed a thousand a day, the government hospitals are overwhelmed with people who think got the virus when most of them have a common flu. Medical staff need to concentrate on severe cases already in hospital,” said Dr Fatma Al Ajmi, a retired virologist and a medical practitioner.

But the decision to stop testing in government hospitals will hurt low-earning expatriate workers who cannot afford to do testing in private hospitals.

“The test in a private hospital would cost half of my monthly wages and my company would not pay for it. The government used to do it free of charge,” Indian national Ganeshan Ramniklal, 29, a supermarket assistant in Muscat, said.

The Ministry of Health said there were 552 people in government hospitals being treated with coronavirus while 177 patients were in intensive care.

Minister of Health Dr Ahmed Al Saidi said Oman was in touch with “Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, to obtain 700,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine once it is produced”.

Oman on Saturday imposed a nationwide curfew from 7pm to 6am that would last until August 8. It has also banned travel from one region to another to contain the spread of the virus.

Updated: July 28, 2020 02:44 PM

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