Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 9 August 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: Oman passes 50,000 cases as government threatens to name and shame rule breakers

Cases continued to soar in the sultanate and other GCC nations, as well as Iran

The sultanate now has over 50,000 cases of coronavirus. Silvia Razgova / The National
The sultanate now has over 50,000 cases of coronavirus. Silvia Razgova / The National

Oman will begin naming and shaming coronavirus rule breakers, the country’s supreme committee announced on Wednesday, as cases of the disease exceeded 50,000.

The country reported 1,210 new cases of the novel coronavirus and nine deaths in the last day, taking its total count to 50,207 cases with 233 deaths

A week ago, the health minister warned there had been a “scary” surge in infections in the last six weeks and urged people to comply with health measures.

In an effort to deter residents and citizens from flouting the rules, the government will publish the names and photos of culprits. It has also increased some penalties for those caught breaking the rules.

In a statement, the committee expressed “its strong dissatisfaction” with those breaking the rules.

“In order for everyone to bear their responsibilities, the committee decided to increase the penalties for violators of the decisions issued by it, and the committee affirms that it is proceeding with decisive dealing with these violators in various ways in a manner that preserves the safety of individuals and society in general.

“This may include publishing the names of the violators and their images via various media.”

The sultanate, a country of 4.7 million people, will start a 10-week nationwide survey on Sunday to analyse the spread of the virus, including taking blood samples to detect antibodies.

In March, Oman began to introduce lockdowns in certain regions such as Muscat, Dhofar and Duqm and some tourist towns, but since April it has gradually allowed commercial centres to reopen and lifted the lockdown in the Muscat region, which includes the capital.

Air and land borders remain closed, except for repatriation flights.

Saudi Arabia has the highest number of confirmed infections in the GCC which together have recorded more than 503,000 cases and more than 3,180 deaths.

On Wednesday the kingdom's Ministry of Health confirmed 3,036 new cases, bringing the total number to 220,144. Of those 60,035 are active cases receiving medical care, with 2,263 in a critical condition. A further 42 people have died from the disease, bringing the toll to 2,059.

As many as 3,211 cases have recovered, bringing the total recoveries to 158,050.

Iran continued to suffer huge losses from the virus, as its death toll topped 12,000 on Wednesday.

It came a day after the country reported its highest single-day fatality count of 200 from the Covid-19 illness.

Health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said that another 153 deaths had been recorded over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 12,084.

Cases also neared 250,000 as 2,691 more people tested positive.

Nine of Iran's 31 provinces are now classified as "red", the highest category in the country's virus risk scaling.

Another 10 are on alert including the capital Tehran and the surrounding province, Ms Lari added.

"Tehran is facing a very fragile situation," said Alireza Zali, the head of the city's virus taskforce.

"The number of infections, deaths and hospitalisations have been on a sharp rising trajectory in the past 10 days," he was quoted as saying by ISNA news agency.

Iran closed schools, cancelled public events and banned movement between its 31 provinces in March, but the government progressively lifted restrictions from April to try to reopen its sanctions-hit economy.

Mr Zali said that Tehran needs "more restrictive measures" to contain the virus and will discuss their reimposition in an emergency meeting with the health minister.

His deputy, Ali Maher, told ISNA that measures may be reintroduced as soon as Saturday.

Updated: July 8, 2020 07:50 PM

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