Muscat: A national serological survey conducted by the Ministry of Health found that six per cent of the population in the Sultanate was exposed to coronavirus.
The infection is prevalent more among non-Omanis with 8.7 per cent testing positive and Omanis accounting for 3.9 per cent.
The survey helps the government in estimating the proportion of the population that might have been exposed to the virus causing coronavirus disease, and developed immunity to it. This is done by checking for antibodies against Sars-CoV-2 in blood samples.
The cross-sectional survey includes all parts of the Sultanate, Omanis and expatriate volunteers whose blood samples are collected and tested as part of this exercise.
The first phase of results, which were released by the MoH on Wednesday, is significant as authorities prepare to reopen airports and schools in the coming months.
The survey will also benefit a lot in planning for the future in case vaccines are found in the coming six months.
It may be noted that 20,000 people will be examined in four phases over the 10 weeks, and in each phase, 5,000 from all governorates will be examined at a rate of 400 people from each governorate. The Governorate of Muscat will have twice the number of samples because of the population density and other factors.
Among the governorates, Muscat and Al Wusta governorates had the highest prevalence of the disease at 9.2 percent rate each.
“The survey has become one of the main pillars supporting the national strategy to respond to the pandemic by assessing the prevalence of COVID-19 infection by age groups, monitoring of laboratory-diagnosed cases, assessing the level of infection in various governorates in Oman as well as the proportion of infections in those who have not shown symptoms, and assessing the impact of the closure of the governorates,” the statement from MOH said.
Launched in July, the first phase of the study revealed that the number of infections in the Sultanate is estimated at 276,685 (those who have symptoms and those who did not show symptoms).
The Ministry of Health stressed the importance of the first stage of collecting samples, noting that the continuation of the survey and results of the subsequent stages are important. The need of sustained participation of citizens and expatriates in the survey is necessary to complete the survey process successfully.