Secret gatherings led to surge in COVID-19 cases

MUSCAT: As the government is trying to control the spread of coronavirus, the infection count has spiked in the recent weeks raising an alarm in the Sultanate.

According to the Ministry of Health, the number of COVID-19 cases is shooting up just because of the unacceptable behaviour of some people who are not following preventive measures.

The ministry has blamed ‘secret social’ gatherings for the sharp increase in cases. The total number of positive cases in the Sultanate now climbed to 54,697 with 1,083 new infections announced on Saturday.

Of the total positive cases announced on Saturday by the ministry, 786 are Omanis and 297 are residents. The death toll now stands at 248 with four more people succumbing in the last 24 hours.

The data released by the ministry also shows that 60 people were admitted to hospitals on Saturday, taking the number of people in different hospitals to 517, including 133 in the Intensive Care Units (ICUs).

“People need to be responsible if we need to get the infected numbers down. It is just common sense to follow guidelines to protect ourselves”, said Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Saeedi, Minister of Health.

While ruling out possibility that reopening of commercial establishments led to the spike in infections, the minister said that people are still meeting in homes to celebrate weddings or organise birthday parties.

“We must always be disciplined to ensure that we remain safe. For this, we must wear mask, must not go out if not necessary and practice social distancing”, the minister urged.

Echoing the same tone, Mohammed bin Saif al Hosni, Under-Secretary for Health Affairs, said that there have been serious lapses in the behaviour of some people that led to the escalation in COVID-19 cases.

According to him, unacceptable behaviours led to the surge in COVID-19 cases, especially in North and South Al Batinah governorates.

The cases have doubled in the recent weeks due to many reasons including lack of commitment, recklessness and the continuous holding of events, he said.

“It was found that there was a lack of commitment and carelessness by some people, including holding family gatherings, birthdays and travel of more people in cars. There were also cases of affected people mingling with others, and some institutions allowing entry to employees without checking their temperature”, he said in an interview.

After initially limiting the spread of the virus with lockdowns in many parts of the country, the Supreme Committee dealing with the COVID-19 situation allowed reopening of almost all businesses with the exception to a few like barber shops, hairdressing salons etc.

While the committee has also closed all beaches indefinitely from last Monday as cases doubled in just three weeks, no decision has yet been taken on the opening of places of worship and educational institutions as they will see large congregation of people.