People must follow Covid-19 protocol in coming days as new year celebrations and increasing cold offer a perfect combination for spike in coronavirus cases as the Sultanate of Oman reported over 200 infections last week, and the number of hospitalised cases went up to 10 during the same period.

Authorities have also intensified checking on hotels for violations of Covid-19 protocols. The ROP has also started slapping fine on people for not wearing masks and dispersed gatherings in many places.

Doctors urged the people aged 18 and above to get a third dose of coronavirus vaccine.

"All evidence point to the conclusion that the booster dose assumes maximum significance in combating the new mutant that has spread fast, far and wide in the world." Dr Ridha Al Lawati of The Royal Hospital in a statement to ONA last week

The WHO said that the world remains very much in grip of the pandemic, which is now in its third year. The 22 countries/territories of the Eastern Mediterranean Region will report over 17 million cases and more than 314,000 deaths by the end of the year.

“Covid-19 will continue to evolve in the months to come; simply because the virus continues to mutate. This is what viruses do: they change as they circulate. Yet, the way we can protect ourselves remains unchanged and progress has been made in developing effective tools to prevent and control the pandemic, including vaccine and therapeutics,” the WHO said.

It added, “The only way we can stop the virus from spreading is by following the prevention guidelines against Covid-19 persistently, now more than ever. We have three reasons to do so. First, the winter season has been characterized by spikes of cases and deaths. Second, the holiday season with gatherings of friends and families. Third, the arrival of Omicron, which has the capacity to become a dominant variant in a matter of weeks wherever it emerges. Fourteen countries in our Region have now reported this variant of concern.”

The failure to apply the established public health and social measures during the holiday season could cause alarming surges in the number of Covid-19 cases and related deaths. More cases could lead to more hospital admissions and overwhelm health systems once again.

Dr. Ahmed al Mandhari, the regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean region, "Being vaccinated does not protect you completely from contracting the virus. That is why we urge everyone, everywhere, to continue to diligently follow all established precautions.”

Preventive measures, including physical or social distancing, quarantining, ventilation of indoor spaces, covering coughs and sneezes, and handwashing, are our only weapons to stay armed in the fight against the pandemic.

People can enjoy smaller gatherings, preferably in open or well-ventilated spaces, with attendees wearing masks and maintaining a physical distance. Always remember that indoor gatherings, even smaller ones, are breeding grounds for the virus.

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