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Oman declares full lockdown ahead of Eid al-Adha celebrations as coronavirus cases increase

Oman has recorded nearly 70,000 coronavirus cases [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 July, 2020

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As coronavirus cases continued to increase in Oman, authorities on Tuesday declared a full lockdown across the country for two weeks.
Oman announced it would reimpose a full lockdown across all its governates from next week, as the sultanate reported an increase in coronavirus cases.

The Gulf state on Tuesday said the lockdown will begin on July 25 and will last a total of two weeks, ending on August 8, according to the country’s coronavirus supreme committee.

Authorities said the restrictions will be imposed across all public areas, noting stores will be closed from 7pm until 6am.

Security patrols and checkpoints will also be reinforced across the sultanate, the Omani news agency ONA confirmed.

The lockdown covers the period of Eid al-Adha, which is due to take place on the final day of the Hajj pilgrimage on July 31. Public and private gatherings, including the Eid prayer will be prohibited during the two-week lockdown, the report confirmed.

Oman has confirmed 69,887 positive cases of Covid-19, which has claimed the lives of 337 people in the sultanate.

Oman's economy has been hit by years of low oil prices and more recently by the coronavirus crisis, which has had a devastating impact on local businesses.

The sultanate's GDP growth is expected to shrink this year, with the government announcing a range of budget cuts to cope with the decrease in finances

Last month, reports said Oman held discussions with its Gulf neighbours about the possibility of receiving financial aid as low oil prices and coronavirus lockdown measures hit the sultanate's finances.

Two officials in the region told Bloomberg that financial aid was one of several topics discussed at a "recent high-level political meeting" between officials from Gulf countries. 

The talks, which reportedly took place at the leadership and foreign ministry level, remain preliminary.

Oman has been experiencing economic difficulties since before the coronavirus crisis and is considered the most vulnerable economy in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Bloomberg reported.

Read also: 'Rumours are viruses too': Middle East mythbusters battle coronavirus 'infodemic'

A US official told Bloomberg that the other Gulf nations have reognised Oman's financial difficulties and are unanimous in their desire to help. 

The US is also exploring ways it can help, the official said.

Oman's new Sultan Haitham bin Tariq was sworn in shortly after former Sultan Qaboos,  the longest-serving leader in the modern Arab world, died in January. 

As part of his pledge to make fiscal stability a priority, the Omani government has been looking to shear costs. 

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