National Survey key to decisions on opening schools, mosques

MUSCAT: The National Survey on COVID-19 will benefit the authorities to make conclusive decisions on the opening of activities such as schools and mosques and other activities.

It will also help make decisions keeping in mind the health safety of particular age groups, especially the elderly and children.

Dr Saif al Abri, Director-General of Disease Control and Control at the Ministry of Health, said in an interview to Oman TV that the nationwide serological survey will cover all segments of society and all the targeted regions of the country to know the extent of immunity to the virus among the population and the extent of its spread within the Sultanate.

Dr Al Abri said the survey will benefit a lot in planning for the future in case vaccines are found in the next six months, it will help in finding the target groups for the vaccine, as well as the approximate quantity of the vaccine required in the society, especially the most vulnerable segments.

He said 20,000 people will be examined in four phases over the next 10 weeks, and in each phase, 5,000 from all governorates will be examined at a rate of 400 people from each governorate for five days to a week. The Governorate of Muscat will have twice the number of samples because of the population density and other factors.

He said: “While we have a certain percentage of cases in the country, but with the serological survey, we can know what is the actual spread in the community, and also there will be a questionnaire to know the areas and groups most vulnerable to infection.”

Dr Al Abri said another serological survey will be required after six months or a year depending on the pandemic situation and the results of this survey.

The random selection of samples will be based on the data of the population provided by the National Centre for Statistics and Information, the data collected through the Tarassud Plus surveillance programme.

The survey will include collection of blood samples to check antibodies to the COVID-19 disease, a questionnaire that will also seek information about the symptoms.

The survey will be conducted in four sessions, where each session will take five days, and each session is separated from the other two weeks and that over 10 weeks.