Oman will lift a two-week domestic intra-provincial travel ban on Friday, August 7, a day earlier than was originally planned. The ban will be lifted as of 14:00 (local time); however, a full lockdown of the Dhofar province in the south will be maintained until further notice. This comes as adverse weather is forecast to impact large parts of the country through Monday, August 10. The ban was initially implemented on July 25 to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday. A tropical low-pressure system is forecast to bring adverse weather across Oman through August 10. Heavy rain and strong winds could impact at least nine of the country's 11 provinces, including the capital Muscat. Dust storms, thunderstorms, and flash flooding are possible in the coming days.
Authorities have previously allowed certain businesses to resume operations outside of the curfew hours, at a 50 percent capacity and as long as social distancing guidelines and other safety directives are observed. Public gatherings remain banned and face masks remain mandatory in all public spaces and on public transportation. All educational and religious institutions are closed until further notice.
Commercial flights, both domestic and international, remain suspended into and out of Oman, except for cargo, humanitarian and repatriation flights. Flights between Muscat International Airport (MCT) and Khasab Airport (KHB) in Musandam province are also exempt. Omani citizens who wish to travel abroad will have to apply for permission from authorities and will be required to quarantine for 14 days on return to the country. Foreigners remain prohibited from entering the country.
As of August 7, there have been 80,713 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Oman and 492 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.
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