Oman’s health minister said on Thursday that the sultanate had witnessed a ‘scary’ surge in COVID-19 cases that required boosting hospital capacity, especially for intensive care units.
“In the last six weeks there has been a radical change which is very disturbing and scary,” minister Ahmed bin Al Saeedi told a news briefing. He blamed individuals who did not wear masks or practice social distancing and said some employees were going into offices when they had been in contact with infected people, instead of self-isolating.
He said there had been more than 9,000 new infections and 43 deaths since last Thursday, the biggest weekly spike since Oman first reported cases in late February.
Saeedi said Oman, a country of 4.7 million people, was working to increase capacity at intensive care units and planned to set up a field hospital with 250 to 300 beds in the Muscat region for non-urgent cases.
Oman will also start a 10-week nationwide survey, including of citizens and non-citizens, on July 12 to analyse the spread of the coronavirus. Blood samples to detect antibodies will be part of the data collection, the ministry of health said on Twitter.
Saeedi said mosques will not be allowed to reopen or large gatherings to take place at the current rate of infection.
Air and land borders remain closed except for repatriation flights.