Oman steps up nCoV aware­ness cam­paign

Omani schools to re­open as per sched­ule; work­shop in Mus­cat at­tended by over 100 health­care work­ers

Muscat Daily - - FRONT PAGE - Shad­dad al Musalmy

Thou­sands of chil­dren will re­turn af­ter a three-week win­ter hol­i­day as Omani schools re­open on Sun­day as sched­uled. Health au­thor­i­ties have stepped up aware­ness cam­paigns on Novel Coro­n­avirus (2019-nCoV) ed­u­cat­ing teach­ers and stu­dents on how to be safe.

There were, how­ever, some queries that whether the re­open­ing day [Fe­bru­ary 9] would be post­poned over fears of China virus out­break. “As planned, schools will re­open on Sun­day. There is no post­pone­ment of re­open­ing date till now,” a Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cial said.

MoH takes the lead

The Min­istry of Health (MoH) in co­op­er­a­tion with other in­sti­tu­tions has taken the lead to cre­ate aware­ness. The Royal Hospi­tal’s med­i­cal staff, rep­re­sented by the In­fec­tion Con­trol De­part­ment, has or­gan­ised coun­selling pro­grammes for stu­dents in sev­eral ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions.

‘The aim is to raise aware­ness on pub­lic safety and pre­ven­tive mea­sures,’ The Royal Hospi­tal said in a state­ment.

Fol­low safe hy­giene prac­tices

Peo­ple have been ad­vised to fol­low sim­ple hy­giene prac­tices.

“Wash hands with soap of­ten. Please seek med­i­cal at­ten­tion if you are not feel­ing well or have de­vel­oped flu-like symp­toms. In ad­di­tion, it is bet­ter to drink lots of wa­ter to keep the body hy­drated,” Dr Su­laiman al Shu­raiqi, se­nior spe­cial­ist, Pub­lic Health, MoH, told Mus­cat Daily.

Dr Niren Sachdeva from Nile Clinic, Nizwa said that if any­one is suf­fer­ing from high-grade fever or pneu­mo­nia, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing body aches, pains and short­ness of breath, sneez­ing, cough and mild com­mon cold, it is best to visit the near­est health cen­tre or a doc­tor. “Avoid con­tact with any per­son hav­ing such symp­toms. Even if there’s a mere sus­pi­cion about suf­fer­ing from the dis­ease, it’s best to seek med­i­cal help as early as pos­si­ble.

“Par­ents are ad­vised that if the child has even mild symp­toms, it’s bet­ter not to send him/her to school and seek med­i­cal ad­vice im­me­di­ately.”

Wear­ing masks

When asked if there is a need to wear masks in Oman as a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure, Dr Shu­raiqi said, “There is no need to do so as no case has been re­ported. And if it so hap­pens, then we will look at the ge­o­graph­i­cal area where the in­fec­tion orig­i­nated and only peo­ple of that re­gion may be asked to put on masks.”

Aware­ness ses­sions

The Direc­torate Gen­eral of Health Ser­vices (DGHS) in Mus­cat has been or­gan­is­ing work­shops to raise aware­ness.

On Tues­day, over 100 male and fe­male health­care work­ers from dif­fer­ent in­sti­tu­tions at­tended a work­shop. ‘It dis­cussed the global epi­demi­o­log­i­cal sit­u­a­tion, Oman’s pre­pared­ness and the re­sponse mech­a­nisms at health in­sti­tu­tions,’ MoH stated.

Shaikha al Ganaini, Act­ing Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of DGHS - Mus­cat, af­firmed the im­por­tance of the work­shop, which was to re­view Oman’s pre­pared­ness.

Oman’s em­bassy is­sues state­ment

Oman’s em­bassy in Bei­jing has con­firmed the re­turn of most Omani stu­dents study­ing in

China. ‘We are in con­tact with the rest of them to en­sure their re­turn,’ the em­bassy stated.

Rise in death toll

The new coro­n­avirus which ap­peared late De­cem­ber has claimed at least 425 lives, in­fected more than 20,630 peo­ple in China, and spread to more than two dozen coun­tries.

Bei­jing, China - Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping called on all of­fi­cials to quickly work to­gether to con­tain a deadly new virus at a rare meet­ing of top lead­ers, say­ing the out­come would di­rectly im­pact so­cial sta­bil­ity in the coun­try.

The ef­fort to con­tain the virus di­rectly af­fects peo­ple’s health, China’s eco­nomic and so­cial sta­bil­ity, and the coun­try’s process of open­ing up, he told a meet­ing of the Com­mu­nist Party’s pow­er­ful Polit­buro Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Mon­day.

Lead­ers also urged of­fi­cials ‘to achieve the tar­gets of eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment this year’ and ‘pro­mote sta­ble con­sumer spend­ing’.

It was the sec­ond meet­ing of China’s se­nior-most lead­ers to han­dle the cri­sis in re­cent days, a rare oc­cur­rence over the past few decades. The virus has al­ready claimed more than 400 lives in China and sent its eq­uity mar­kets plung­ing.

‘The out­break is a ma­jor test of China’s sys­tem and ca­pac­ity for gov­er­nance, and we must sum up the ex­pe­ri­ence and draw a les­son from it’, the of­fi­cial Xin­hua News Agency re­ported, cit­ing a state­ment from the meet­ing.

Xi said the coun­try’s top lead­ers should be squarely fo­cused on preven­tion and con­trol­ling the spread of the virus. Of­fi­cials should aban­don ‘for­mal­i­ties for for­mal­i­ties’ sake’, he said, adding that those who dis­obeyed the plans of the cen­tral gov­ern­ment would be pun­ished.

The meet­ing re­solved to im­prove China’s emer­gency re­sponse sys­tem, im­prove weak­nesses in pub­lic health and crack­down on il­le­gal wildlife mar­kets. It also called for im­prov­ing the pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity of es­sen­tial sup­plies.

Xi had been out of pub­lic view for nearly a week as his gov­ern­ment bat­tles the deadly epi­demic amid con­cerns over its abil­i­ties to con­tain the virus. He made his last pub­lic ap­pear­ance on Jan­uary 28 when meet­ing in Bei­jing with Te­dros Ad­hanom Ghe­breye­sus, di­rec­tor gen­eral of the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion, which has de­clared the coro­n­avirus a ‘pub­lic health emer­gency of in­ter­na­tional con­cern’.

Such meet­ings of China’s top lead­ers are rare. There were only 20 re­ported meet­ings of the com­mit­tee be­tween 1992 and 2013, half of them ur­gent and fo­cused on nat­u­ral dis­as­ters or pub­lic health emer­gen­cies. Since Xi took power they have gen­er­ally been held once a year, ex­cept for spe­cial meet­ings such as those on a deadly 2014 earth­quake in Yun­nan prov­ince and a 2018 gath­er­ing to dis­cuss the de­vel­op­ment of the Xion­gan ‘smart’ city.

In re­cent weeks Xi has over­seen ex­treme con­tain­ment mea­sures, in­clud­ing quar­an­tin­ing more than 50mn peo­ple - roughly equiv­a­lent to the pop­u­la­tion of Spain - and rapidly build­ing two new hos­pi­tals.

The moves have come as the virus’ spread fu­els con­cerns at home and abroad about his ef­forts to cen­tralise power since tak­ing of­fice, with lo­cal of­fi­cials and Bei­jing point­ing fin­gers over who’s to blame for the spread of the ill­ness.

The out­break is a ma­jor test of China’s sys­tem and ca­pac­ity for gov­er­nance

Xin­hua News Agency

pages 14, 15

Pho­to­graph for il­lus­tra­tive pur­pose only


The Hu­oshen­shan hospi­tal af­ter be­ing handed over to army in Wuhan in China’s cen­tral Hubei prov­ince on Sun­day

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