MUSCAT (ONA) – The Sultanate is currently experiencing an alarming rise in Covid-19 infection cases, causing an influx of patients admitted to hospital wards. The epidemiological curve is spiking steadily.
Dr Faryal al-Lawati, Senior Consultant of Infectious Diseases and Head of the Contagious Diseases Unit at the Royal Hospital, said that the surge was due to lenience in implementing precautionary measures, like wearing face masks properly, sanitizing hands and avoiding assembling during funerals and shopping.
In a statement to Oman News Agency (ONA), Dr Faryal said that many cases of infection are inadvertently imported by arriving passengers who fail to comply with home quarantine or institutional isolation. This behaviour, she explained, has been the main source of new, doubly-mutated and rapidly propagating variants of the virus. “The tragedy is that some of those who get infections and experience respiratory system inflammation symptoms still mingle with others, instead of isolating themselves,” she added.
Dr Faryal said that the Covid-19 Supreme Committee may take more stringent measures to address the high rise of infection cases, which, if no action is taken in the right time, may go beyond the capacity of the health system. “There is a concern that we might reach a stage where we will be unable to provide proper care to Covid-19 patients if the numbers of infections keep rising. Also, full focus on Covid-19 patients will deprive other patients who need health services,” said Dr Faryal.
The epidemiological situation points to the fact that the Sultanate is entering a new wave of Covid-19 infections, said Dr. Faryal, who observed that the number of such infections went down considerably during December 2020 and January 2021, but cases picked up perilously in February 2021. More than 50 percent of the patients admitted to ICUs are dependent on breathing equipment, she added.
Dr Faryal pointed out that the Ministry of Health keeps expanding the capacity of hospitals to help accommodate the rising numbers of infected people, but the problem is that this capacity is limited.
Speaking about whether or not a patient might contract Covid-19 twice, Dr Faryal said that two studies published by medical journals recently (one in the United States, the other in Denmark) show that infection with the disease for a second time is possible. A study published only two days ago indicates that Covid-19 patients may get the infection again after six months from the first infection. The study proved that 0.65 percent of a total of about 11,000 people who participated in the study got the infection again. The results of the study indicate that cases of re-infection with Covid-19 were found in the age group of 65 years, which is the most vulnerable segment of society.
Dr Faryal added that a small number of Covid-19 cases in the Sultanate showed symptoms of the disease after three months when they underwent polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, but it is difficult to decide whether it was a Covid-19 infection or syndrome of the same. Dr Faryal advised the authorities concerned to conduct more intensive studies and monitoring measures.