Hospitals in Oman are turning away Covid-19 patients citing a lack of bed space as cases spike, patients and officials told The National.
“The beds in both government and private hospitals are 99 per cent full,” a Ministry of Health spokesman said.
“Covid-19 patients are only kept for a few hours in the emergency wings and sent home the same day. We are keeping those who are very critical overnight and even in this category we are struggling because the intensive care units are fully loaded.”
He said most of the 366 intensive care beds in the government’s hospitals and the 76 intensive care beds in private hospitals were occupied.
“The availability of normal hospital beds is critical as well and there are over 95 per cent occupied at the moment, both government and private hospitals. Because we are reaching critical stages, we need to intensify the vaccination process,” the spokesman said.
The government said last week that medical workers at private hospitals would be vaccinated free of charge, in addition to government health workers. Delays in vaccine shipments and scepticism have contributed to a national vaccination rate of only 30 per cent.
Patients suffering from coronavirus said hospitals sent them home without consultations.
“My husband took me to Al Raffah Private Hospital yesterday morning when I had a high fever and vomiting. The doctor there said there was nothing he could do because their beds were full and sent me back home,” said Maryam Al Saadi, 33, who tested positive for the virus last week.
The hospital in Muscat verified Ms Al Saadi’s account.
“We are pretty full and all our beds are occupied at the moment,” a spokesman told The National.
“The month of June has been the busiest time for us for coronavirus infection cases for the year 2021. We apologise for that but it has been hectic for us in the last two weeks.”
Ms Al Saadi said her health had not improved since visiting the hospital. “I am still weak. My brother is looking to see if he can get a private hospital I can be admitted so I can be looked after properly.”
Covid-19 patients reported similar grievances at other hospitals.
“My wife has tested positive three days ago and this morning she got worse. I rushed her to Royal Hospital and the reception and emergency wards were full,” said Khamis Al Hassani, 37.
“The doctor just prescribed painkillers and asked her to go back home and isolate. He said there were no available beds to keep her.”
Mr Al Hassani said he hoped to get his wife admitted to a government hospital the Batnah region, about 160km from Muscat.
“I am driving her there now. A doctor promised her a bed in Saham Hospital and she will be admitted there,” he said.
Oman on Sunday reported 4,415 new infections taking total cases since the start of the pandemic to 234,634. There were 46 more deaths, raising the death toll to 2,513.
There are 1,180 Covid-19 patients in hospital, including 374 in intensive care, the health ministry said.
Oman lifted restrictions on June 2 and allowed the resumption of wedding receptions, opened mosques, beaches, parks and exhibitions. The country also allowed shops to stay open after 8pm.