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21 Apr 2020 | 08:07 AM UTC

Oman: Ramadan gatherings banned nationwide as Muscat lockdown extended April 21 /update 9

Authorities ban gatherings during month of Ramadan and extend lockdown in Muscat on April 21; follow authority directives

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Event

Omani authorities announced a ban on mass gatherings ahead of the start of Ramadan on Tuesday, April 21, due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The country's Supreme Committee overseeing the COVID-19 pandemic response asked that individuals avoid all gatherings and stated that the closure of mosques will continue during Ramadan.

Further, an ongoing lockdown in Muscat has been extended through Friday, May 8, in efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the capital. Per the directive, all movement into and out of the province will be prohibited until 10:00 on May 8.

The commercial market area in Jalan Bani Bu Ali (Al-Sharqiyah South province) was placed under quarantine at 16:00 (local time) on Thursday, April 16, until further notice. The decision was made by the Royal Oman Police (ROP) after 12 cases of the virus were locally transmitted in the area.  On Wednesday, April 1, officials placed Muttrah district (Muscat province) under indefinite quarantine, closing all entry roads. Exemptions will be made for food and medical supplies, as well as for medical services.

All international and domestic flight operations are suspended as of Tuesday, March 24. Border crossing points via land, sea, and air remain closed to all individuals except citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. All individuals entering Oman will be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine. Cargo flights will be exempt, as will flights to Musandam province. Authorities have also banned public gatherings, closed parks, and suspended Friday prayers and weddings.

As of April 21, there are 1508 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, with eight associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.