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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Spike in Covid cases: SQU hospital makes masks a must

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Muscat: Sultan Qaboos University Hospital (SQUH) has issued an internal directive that stipulated that all employees and visitors of the University Hospital must wear face masks, from today


According to sources, the decision has been taken because the hospital administration noticed an increase in the number of patients with Covid-19 positive results in recent days.


All employees and visitors must enter the hospital from the main entrance and they are not allowed to use the emergency department entrances.


The hospital administration will continue to monitor the situation to determine the next course of action, the statement said.


Around a dozen countries have imposed fresh travel regulations on travelers from China as it faces a surge in Covid cases following its decision to relax strict virus restrictions. Here is a run-down of the countries that have imposed mandatory Covid tests and other rules on arrivals from China:


As of January 5, the United States will require negative Covid tests taken within two days of departure -- or documentation proving passengers have recovered from the virus within the last 90 days -- for all entries from China. Acceptable tests include "a PCR test or an antigen self-test administered and monitored by a telehealth service or a licensed provider", according to the US Centers for Disease Control.


The rules include those traveling from Hong Kong and Macau.


- European Union - Starting January 5, all those arriving in France from China must present a negative PCR test result, or a rapid antigen test, that was taken less than 48 hours before their flight. Italy and Spain have also imposed Covid test requirements. European countries are set to meet this week to discuss a joint response to the issue, with incoming EU presidency holder Sweden saying it was "seeking a common policy for the entire EU when it comes to the introduction of possible entry restrictions".


Australia is also requiring travelers from China -- including Hong Kong and Macau -- to provide a negative Covid-19 test before arrival, citing a "lack of comprehensive information" from Beijing about the outbreak.


Canada is asking travelers arriving from China to show a negative Covid test taken no more than two days before their departure.


In rules that come into effect on January 5, all travelers to the UK from China must submit a negative test before boarding. The UK government also said it would test "a sample of arrivals" to monitor for new variants.


Japan was one of the first countries to impose new rules on arrivals from China, requiring them to submit a negative Covid test. Those who test positive will be quarantined for seven days at designated facilities and Tokyo will also cap flights coming from mainland China.


South Korea has also taken steps to screen travelers from China, requiring them to provide a negative Covid test before and after arrival. Travelers from Hong Kong and Macau are exempt from the rules.


India will require travelers from China and a spate of other Asian countries to provide a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of departure to the country


The north African nation of Morocco has taken some of the strictest measures, banning entry outright for all travelers from China. The ban will take effect on January 3 and last until further notice, "in order to avoid a new wave of contaminations in Morocco and all its consequences", the country's foreign ministry said.


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