Oman imposes nationwide lockdown as Covid-19 infections rise

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Oman will impose a countrywide lockdown from Saturday in an effort to stem the rapid spread of coronavirus.

The country's committee responsible for handling the Covid-19 pandemic said the new lockdown will begin July 25 and last for two weeks, lasting over the Eid Al Adha holiday.

"In view of the increase in the number of people infected with Covid-19 and to limit its spread, the Supreme Committee on Covid-19 has decided to close all governorates between July 25 and August 8," the committee said in a statement on Tuesday.

Omanis will not be able to leave their homes for 11 hours a day, and streets will be patrolled by law enforcement.

Prayer rooms at Al Wahda Mall are open to worshippers as Covid-19 restrictions ease in Abu Dhabi. Victor Besa / The National

A prayer room is sanitised at Al Wahda Mall. Victor Besa / The National

A fruit vendor wearing a face mask waves as he waits for customers in Kuwait City. AFP

Food vendors wearing face masks prepare kebabs at a market in Kuwait City amid the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic crisis. AFP

Ibrahim, a 29-year-old Palestinian, makes a kite with a safety message regarding the coronavirus pandemic in the village of Halhoul, north the West Bank town of Hebron. AFP

A Palestinian woman who is infected with coronavirus disease receives vitamins delivered by a drone in Beit Ummar in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Reuters

Palestinian municipality staff members prepare to fly a drone loaded with vitamins to be delivered to coronavirus patients in Beit Ummar. Reuters

A paramedic of the Magen David Adom, Israel's national emergency, collects a swab sample from a Palestinian child at a mobile testing station for COVID-19 coronavirus, in the Arab neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in occupied east Jerusalem. AFP

A model wears a face mask to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, designed by Iraqi designer Ziad Tariq, left, at his workshop in Basra, Iraq. AP Photo

Syrian refugee students and instructor, Yasine Hariri, use his invention that is a robot prototype that automatically dispenses sanitiser to avoid contact and combat the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as a part of the camp's UNHCR-led Innovation Lab program, at the Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria. REUTERS

Syrian refugee students and instructor, Yasine Hariri, use his invention that is a robot prototype that automatically dispenses sanitiser to avoid contact and combat the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as a part of the camp's UNHCR-led Innovation Lab program, at the Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria. REUTERS

Members of the Cairo-based theatre group Sitara pack props and costumes to be put in storage, after the theatre was closed following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cairo, Egypt. REUTERS

A European tourist gestures as she cools down in the sea on the Tunisian island of Djerba, a day after the arrival of the first charter flights to the country since the COVID-19 crisis erupted. AFP

European tourists walk at the beach at a hotel on the Tunisian island of Djerba. AFP

"It has also been decided to prevent all types of movements and close public places and shops during this period between 7pm and 6am, with intensified patrols and points of control in the daytime," the committee said.

Both Omanis and residents will be banned from socialising or visiting each other during Eid Al Adha, which will begin on July 31 and last until August 3. The ban also prevents people from travelling from one region to another.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health reported 1,437 new cases of the virus and 11 deaths. Tuesday’s new death toll is the highest daily recorded since the virus arrived on its shores.

Oman has 69,887 cases and 337 deaths in total.

Oman is also testing widely, conducting 4,701 tests on Tuesday, bringing the total to 279, 446.

Medical experts said that the new lockdown decision would not help much to stop the virus spread.

"We can have as many lockdowns as we wish but that would not stop the spread of the virus,” said Dr Fatma Al Ajmi, a retired virologist and a medical practitioner, said.

“What we need is ordinary people to be responsible and stop gathering. There are not enough police officers in the country to patrol the streets to stop people visiting each other in their homes."

Updated: July 21, 2020 03:41 PM

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