RO 20 for not wearing mask in public

Muscat: If you do not wear face mask in public places including shops, you will be fined RO 20. This is one among the slew of penalties imposed by the government to curb the spread of Coronanvirus infection in the Sultanate.

A fine RO 200 will be slapped on those suspected of COVID-19 for not taking the test and not adhering to quarantine regulations. People who are taking part in Eid gatherings, weddings and funerals without approval will be fined RO 1,500.

The package of penalties was announced by Nasr al Sawai, Public Prosecutor, in the e-press conference of the Supreme Committee on Thursday, which was attended by Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Saeedi, Minister of Health; Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Futaisi, Minister of Transport; and other top officials.

The Health Minister said the people of the Sultanate must strictly follow social distancing and other preventive measures to stem the infections. “We have noticed a growing number of infections among Omanis recently because they are not adhering to social distancing. More deaths among residents were due to the delay in approaching health institutions.”

Dr Al Saeedi thanked all citizens and residents for adhering to the Supreme Committee’s guidelines. “We have paid a high price of infections, but things would have been much worse had we not taken early measures to limit the virus spread. Our government is keen on the health of citizens and residents, and the Supreme Committee, in turn, is keen to consider all affected activities and reopen them gradually. The COVID-19 situation is not over. We reiterate our appeal to abide by the instructions, and we must focus on prevention.”

The minister indicated that not all individuals require the flu vaccine. He assured that explained that the Sultanate has sufficient medical equipment and beds. However, the challenge is shortage of specialised medical personnel.

Answering the question on the possibility of resuming work after Eid al Fitr, Dr Al Saeedi said that the Supreme Committee will meet after the holidays to discuss this issue and Khareef season in Dhofar.

The minister urged Coronavirus recovered patients to donate plasma for treating COVID-19 cases. “The number of beneficiaries of the treatment reached 25 until Wednesday,” he said.

Hospitalisation not necessary

Dr Saif al Abri, Director-General of Diseases Surveillance and Control, said most of the COVID-19 patients do not require hospitalisation. They need either home or institutional quarantine. He said most of the deaths occurred as the victims were late in seeking treatment and suffering from chronic diseases.

Over 2,500 migrants evacuated

Speaking at the meeting, Shaikh Khalifa bin Ali al Harthy, Under-Secretary for Diplomatic Affairs, said “More than 2,500 migrant workers were evacuated by various countries (mostly India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh) in around 16 flights. There is coordination with countries to evacuate expatriate workers and their late departure is due to closure of airports.”

He said no deaths were reported among citizens outside the country due to COVID-19 until now. “There was one case in New York and the person recovered. Three citizens with coronavirus infection came from France and they recovered,” Al Harthy said.

Resumption of air travel

Dr Ahmed al Futaisi, Minister of Transport, said, the government is yet to take a call on restarting air traffic. “No specific date has been set for the resumption of air travel in the Sultanate. Resuming air traffic will start locally first and then internationally, but no time has been set for this yet. The return of the flight operations will require the restructuring of the national airlines, as revenue during this period has reached zero.”

The Transport Minister praised the role of ports in the Sultanate in the fight against the pandemic. “During this period, the ports have proven their firmness and readiness to work, which is a source of gratitude for all of us. So, I invite Omani businessmen to benefit from this opportunity and exploit these ports for export as well, not just import.”

He said that Oman Aviation Group was able to reduce expenses by more than 43 per cent and looking forward for more savings. “The government is trying to reduce expenses by 43 per cent in the aviation sector as normalisation will take a long time, may be four years. This pandemic has significantly hit global aviation sector.”

Dr Al Futaisi said the restoration of public transport in the Sultanate will be gradual and depended on the COVID-19 situation.