Muscat, 19 Sep (ONA) — Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Al Sa’eedi, Minister of Health, cautioned against lenience in applying precautionary measures now that Covid-19 epidemiological indicators have improved in the Sultanate.
Vaccination is only one tool to stem the disease, said Dr. Ahmed, who laid emphasis on the significance of other precautionary measures such as wearing face masks, maintaining physical distancing and other actions.
Al Sa’eedi told Oman News Agency (ONA) that this decline of infections is attributed to several factors, the most important of which is the commitment of citizens and residents to precautionary measures. Other factors include Covid-19 National Immunization Campaign, in which the percentage of those vaccinated reached high levels.
The minister said that lenience could lead to another surge of cases of infection and hospitalization, recalling that as many as 538 were admitted to intensive care units during the first peak in the Sultanate.
The Minister explained that risks can be reduced by committing ourselves to precautionary measures, notably as an unvaccinated segment, children aged 6-12, joined classes in the new school year.
Dr. Ahmed Salim Al Mandhari, Regional Director of Eastern Mediterranean Region of the World Health Organization (WHO-EMRO), spoke about “some stability in the numbers of infections and deaths around the world during the past month and the region, except for a small number of countries that have fluctuations in this regard.”
He added that this decline or stability in infection rates in the current period gives a kind of false reassurance, prompting some people to neglect precautionary measures, though these measures are still very important.
Al Mandhari reiterated that vaccination is an effective tool in combating this virus at a time health workers continue exerting tremendous efforts, since the beginning of the pandemic. Decision-makers, planners and policy-makers are required to continue their attempts to obtain sufficient quantities of vaccines towards realizing the specified percentages.
Al Mandhari also underscored the importance of cooperation and integration among countries. “Some countries have not yet reached even 1% vaccine coverage of population due to the lack of vaccines,” said Al Mandhari. He pointed out that the WHO has endorsed the approach of fair distribution of vaccines since the first day of discussing the vaccine and its use.
“There was consensus among all countries in May 2020 during the meeting of the WHO General Assembly that there should be a fair distribution of vaccines for all countries, regardless of their financial and material capacity,” said Al Mandhari.
He added that the WHO, in consultation and agreement with the countries worldwide, has set goals to meet vaccine coverage rates for 2021. The plan was to achieve 10% vaccination coverage of the world’s population by the end of September 2021.
Another target is to vaccinate 40% of the world’s population with 2 doses by the end of 2021, and 70% by mid-2022, Al Mandhari added.
Al Mandhari pointed out that the Sultanate has made great strides in vaccinating the target groups within the National Campaign for Immunization Against Covid-19. He expected that there will be a significant increase in the number of vaccinated persons in the Sultanate. This is also due to the availability of an appropriate quantity of vaccines and due to the WHO’s pledge to deliver more vaccines to some countries.
Dr. John Jabbour, WHO Representative to Oman, said in a statement to ONA, “It is important to address the Covid-19 pandemic by reaching a point of coexistence with this virus while at the same time implementing precautionary measures.”
Jabbour added that the acceleration of the vaccination pace in Oman reached an advanced stage and that this will contribute to protecting society.
Jabbour commended the efforts of the Sultanate’s government, under the leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik, in providing Covid-19 vaccines to citizens and residents.
“This will enable the Sultanate to press ahead and achieve comprehensive vaccination coverage, thanks to the successful procedures and initiatives,” Jabbour said.
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