Oman's coronavirus infections pass 100,000

Hospitals feel the strain as country's case numbers continue to rise

A medical worker collects a swab sample from a passenger for a RT-PCR Coronavirus test at the Muscat international airport in the Omani capital on October 1, 2020.  / AFP / MOHAMMED MAHJOUB

Oman reported another 2,685 coronavirus cases on Sunday, raising the number of people who have tested positive above the 100,000 mark and continuing a surge of infections that has left hospitals in the sultanate struggling to cope.

The health ministry also said 42 patients died, raising the death toll from Covid-19 in Oman to 977.

Out of the 101,270 people who tested positive for the coronavirus, 90,296 have recovered, the ministry said.

“It is important that everyone adhere to regulations and this cannot be taken lightly. Safety for one is safety for all. We cannot relax and go on with life as if the pandemic is over. It is not. It is still here and we need to remember that all the time,” a ministry of health statement said.

The ministry said 54 people were hospitalised on Sunday, taking the total number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals to 560, of whom 210 are in intensive care.

Medical staff say hospitals have been stretched by the rise in new cases.

“The number of people admitted has increased by at least a third in the last month. We are overwhelmed at the moment with the limited number of beds against the rate of infections,” said Lakshmi Ajai, a nurse at Royal Hospital in Muscat.

The health ministry last week opened a 300-bed field hospital for Covid-19 patients at the old airport, adjacent to the Muscat airport, to cope with new cases. On Sunday, it said it would set up a testing centre next to the airport this week.

“Anyone, not only travellers, can pay only 25 rials (Dh245) to do the infection test and get a tracking bracelet for the same price,” the ministry said.

Juma Al Rashdi, a recovered Covid-19 patient, said most of the infections could be prevented but people “don’t care” and had no respect for the deadly virus.

“They know the virus kills but they don’t give it the respect it deserves. They just gather around everywhere thinking they are immune to the disease. With the new spike of infections, they still go on with their lives without a care,” said Mr Al Rashdi, 44.