Coronavirus: Oman orders 12-day total lockdown in Muscat as city grapples with rising COVID-19 cases

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Oman's late leader Sultan Qaboos bin Said attends the opening of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Doha December 3, 2007. Reuters

The Sultanate of Oman announced on Wednesday, April 8 that it will be placing Muscat under a complete lockdown for 12 days, starting Friday, April 10 until Wednesday, April 22 due to the growing number of coronavirus cases in the capital.

The precautionary measure has been taken as the Sultanate prepares to curb the spread of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic which has infected at least 457 people and two people have died as of Thursday April 9 (the time of writing this article); most of the cases are from Muscat, according to the Omani health ministry.

Muscat has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Oman

Oman's capital Muscat has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Sultanate with more than 300 Covid-19 infections.

The decision to lock down Muscat was taken by the Supreme Committee on COVID-19 which held a meeting under the chairmanship of Oman's Minister of Interior Sayyid Hamoud bin Faisal Al Busaidi to follow up on the coronavirus situation and propose measures to combat the spread of the virus in the Sultanate, according to a report in the Times of Oman.

Lockdown restrictions

As part of the lockdown restrictions, the Governorate of Muscat will be completely isolated from all other governorates. Entry and exit to and from Muscat will be prohibited, and all internal movements within the city will be restricted. However, movements will be facilitated for trucks carrying food and medical supplies.

Most grocery stores and pharmacies in the city will remain open and people will be allowed to go out for groceries shopping, or in case of any medical emergency.

Key workers and employees will be allowed to go to work within the governorate only if their presence is required. However, they will be required to carry a letter from their employer or company. Workers from outside Muscat will not be allowed entry unless their employer makes a request.

Don't worry about food, says ministry

The committee has assured the people of Muscat that food and other commodities are sufficient for a long time and the respective authorities will see if there is any need to extend the lockdown beyond April 22, in which case, they will provide all basic services and food and other items as required.

Giving the latest update on coronavirus cases, the Omani health minister said in a statement that the precautions taken by the Sultanate can help deal with the growing number of cases in the country.

"The number of cases are increasing but we have not reached the climax yet. The precautions taken by the Sultanate, and the pace by which cases are growing can be dealt with," the minister said.

Oman's request to all residents

The health ministry called on the public to abide by the precautionary isolation and home quarantine instructions, and urged everyone to strictly adhere to social distancing instructions that are issued by the Supreme Committee and the Omani Ministry of Health to all residents.

"With our commitment to health instructions, quarantine measures and social distancing, we will prevent ourselves, our families, and our community from the spread of coronavirus," the ministry said in a statement.

As of April 9, Oman has reported 457 cases of Covid-19 infection, with 72 recovering and two deaths.

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