Oman ready to deal with nCoV; all air­ports on alert

Muscat Daily - - FRONT PAGE -

H E Dr Ahmed bin Mo­hammed bin Obaid al Sa’eedi, Min­is­ter of Health, on Sun­day re­viewed Oman’s pre­pared­ness to deal with any even­tu­al­ity aris­ing out of the Novel Coron­avirus (2019nCoV) out­break in China.

Held at the Direc­torate Gen­eral for Dis­ease Sur­veil­lance and Con­trol, the meet­ing dis­cussed the pub­lic health plan, par­tic­u­larly the prepa­ra­tions and pro­ce­dures used to ex­am­ine ar­riv­ing pas­sen­gers at air­ports and ports from the nCoV-in­fected ar­eas.

In ad­di­tion, the meet­ing dis­cussed the prepa­ra­tions of the hos­pi­tals and health­care in­sti­tu­tions to ad­dress any sus­pected cases of Novel Coron­avirus, as well as the pro­vi­sion of lab­o­ra­tory flu­ids and reagents in the Cen­tral Pub­lic Health Lab­o­ra­tory.

The meet­ing also touched upon the com­mu­nity outreach plan through for­mal so­cial me­dia chan­nels.

The meet­ing was at­tended by H E Dr Mo­hammed bin Saif al Hosni, Un­der­sec­re­tary for Health Af­fairs in the Min­istry of Health, (MoH) along with mem­bers of the Cen­tral Com­mit­tee for Pub­lic Health Emer­gency.

MoH has urged all cit­i­zens and res­i­dents to fol­low all state­ments is­sued by it and com­mu­ni­cate it with through the con­tact cen­tre at 24441999 for any in­for­ma­tion.

Min­istry is­sues state­ment

The min­istry said on Sun­day that no cases of coron­avirus have been re­ported in the Eastern Mediter­ranean Re­gion, in­clud­ing Oman so far.

MoH said that the au­thor­i­ties in Oman are fol­low­ing the epi­demi­o­log­i­cal sit­u­a­tion due to the spread of 2019-nCoV in China.

Out of the 1,975 cases, a to­tal of 34 sus­pected cases have been re­ported in coun­tries in­clud­ing Thai­land, Malaysia, Sin­ga­pore, South Korea, Ma­cau, Viet­nam, Hong Kong, Ja­pan, Nepal, Aus­tralia, US, Canada and France.

Oman Air­ports on alert

Oman Air­ports has said that in co­op­er­a­tion with the Min­istry of Health and its strate­gic part­ners, it’s ready to deal with any even­tu­al­ity. ‘We con­firm the readi­ness of our air­ports to deal with any sus­pected cases of the emerg­ing #coron­avirus in ac­cor­dance with the in­ter­na­tional reg­u­la­tions and pro­ce­dures taken un­der th­ese cir­cum­stances,’ Oman Air­ports tweeted.

‘We also con­firm that #OmanAir­ports has raised the alert sta­tus of the med­i­cal and other con­cerned teams at the air­ports. Ster­ilis­ers and masks have been pro­vided for the use of staff and pas­sen­gers who sneeze, cough, or show any sim­i­lar symp­tom.’

Wuhan, China - China ex­panded dras­tic travel re­stric­tions on Sun­day to con­tain an epi­demic that has killed 56 peo­ple and in­fected nearly 2,000, as the US, France and Ja­pan pre­pared to evac­u­ate their cit­i­zens from a quar­an­tined city at the out­break’s epi­cen­tre.

China has locked down the prov­ince of Hubei in an un­prece­dented op­er­a­tion af­fect­ing tens of mil­lions of peo­ple in a bid to slow the spread of the res­pi­ra­tory virus.

Its abil­ity to spread ap­pears to be ‘get­ting stronger’ though it is ‘not as pow­er­ful as SARS’, top Chi­nese health of­fi­cials said at a press con­fer­ence.

The pre­vi­ously un­known virus has caused global con­cern be­cause of its sim­i­lar­ity to the Se­vere Acute Res­pi­ra­tory Syn­drome (SARS) pathogen, which killed hun­dreds across main­land China and Hong Kong in 20022003.

Out­side the epi­cen­tre, Shan­dong prov­ince and four cities - Bei­jing, Shang­hai, Xi’an and Tian­jin - an­nounced bans on long-dis­tance buses en­ter­ing or leav­ing, a move that will af­fect mil­lions of peo­ple trav­el­ling over the Lu­nar New Year hol­i­day.

The pop­u­lous south­ern prov­ince of Guang­dong, Jiangxi in the cen­tre, and three cities made it manda­tory for res­i­dents to wear face masks in pub­lic.

Orig­i­nat­ing in Hubei’s cap­i­tal of Wuhan, the virus has spread through­out China and across the world - with cases con­firmed in around a dozen coun­tries in­clud­ing as far away as the United States.

The US State De­part­ment said on Sun­day it was ar­rang­ing a flight from Wuhan to San Fran­cisco for con­sulate staff and other Amer­i­cans in the city.

France’s gov­ern­ment and the French car­maker PSA also said they planned to evac­u­ate staff and fam­i­lies, who will be quar­an­tined in a city in a neigh­bour­ing prov­ince.

Ja­pan is co­or­di­nat­ing with Bei­jing to swiftly evac­u­ate its cit­i­zens, Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe said.

South Korea’s con­sulate in Wuhan said it was con­duct­ing an on­line poll of its cit­i­zens there to gauge de­mand for a char­tered flight out.

In­stead of New Year rev­elry, Wuhan has been seized by an eerie calm that deep­ened on Sun­day as new re­stric­tions banned most road traf­fic in the me­trop­o­lis of 11mn.

Loud­speak­ers broke the si­lence by of­fer­ing tips slathered with bravado. ‘Do not be­lieve in ru­mours. Do not spread ru­mours. If you feel un­well, go to the hos­pi­tal in time’, the mes­sage said.

‘Wuhan is a city that dares to face dif­fi­cul­ties and keeps over­com­ing them’, the fe­male voice added, men­tion­ing the deadly 2002-03 SARS epi­demic and 1998 Yangtze River flood­ing.

The health emer­gency has over­whelmed Wuhan’s hos­pi­tals with pa­tients, prompt­ing au­thor­i­ties to send hun­dreds of med­i­cal re­in­force­ments, in­clud­ing mil­i­tary doc­tors, and start con­struc­tion on two hos­pi­tals.

With non-es­sen­tial ve­hi­cles banned from the road, vol­un­teers stepped up to drive sick fel­low cit­i­zens to hos­pi­tals.

“There has to be some­one who does this,” Zhang Lin (48) said as he waited for a pa­tient to emerge from a clinic for the drive back home in nearly de­serted streets.

Some for­eign­ers in Wuhan ex­pressed deep con­cern, say­ing they feared go­ing out­side.

“We want to be evac­u­ated as soon as pos­si­ble, be­cause ei­ther the virus, the hunger or the fear will kill us,” Mashal Ja­malzai, a po­lit­i­cal sci­ence stu­dent from Afghanista­n at Cen­tral China Nor­mal Univer­sity, said.

The out­break is sus­pected to have orig­i­nated in a Wuhan mar­ket where an­i­mals in­clud­ing rats, snakes and hedge­hogs were re­port­edly sold. Health of­fi­cials said the virus has since be­come trans­mis­si­ble be­tween hu­mans. “From what we see now, this dis­ease is in­deed... not as pow­er­ful as SARS,” said Gao Fu, head of China’s Cen­tre for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion.

How­ever, it also ap­pears that the ‘spread­ing abil­ity of the virus is get­ting stronger’, said Ma Xiaowei, head of China’s na­tional health com­mis­sion.

The gov­ern­ment says most deaths in­volved the el­derly or peo­ple with ex­ist­ing ail­ments.

Fear­ing a re­peat of SARS, China has dra­mat­i­cally scaled back cel­e­bra­tions and travel as­so­ci­ated with the New Year hol­i­day, which be­gan on Fri­day, while tourist sites like Bei­jing’s For­bid­den City and a sec­tion of the Great Wall have closed.

In Hong Kong, Dis­ney­land an­nounced on Sun­day it had closed as a pre­cau­tion af­ter the city de­clared an emer­gency to com­bat the cri­sis. Shang­hai’s Dis­ney­land park had al­ready closed on Satur­day.

Also in Hong Kong, pro­test­ers op­posed to gov­ern­ment plans to use a newly built pub­lic hous­ing fa­cil­ity as a quar­an­tine cen­tre threw petrol bombs at the build­ing, show­ing how fear­ful peo­ple are of the virus.

A new work­ing group to tackle the epi­demic, chaired by Chi­nese Premier Li Ke­qiang, called for lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to con­sider ‘ex­tend­ing the Spring Fes­ti­val hol­i­day’, in or­der to pre­vent the move­ment of peo­ple.

Sev­eral cities re­sponded, with new school terms de­layed in Bei­jing, Shang­hai and the city of Suzhou in Jiangsu prov­ince - which also or­dered com­pa­nies to ex­tend the end of the hol­i­day un­til Fe­bru­ary 9.

(Sup­plied photo)

H E Dr Ahmed al Sa’eedi holds a spe­cial re­view meet­ing on Sun­day


A woman wear­ing a pro­tec­tive face mask re­turns from a mar­ket in Wuhan on Sun­day


Se­cu­rity per­son­nel in pro­tec­tive cloth­ing at a sub­way sta­tion in Bei­jing on Sun­day

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