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Oman announces record deaths from Covid-19

Gulf country sees 119 deaths and 5,500 new cases in past three days
Oman has been trying to ramp up its vaccination drive, which has lagged behind neighbours (AFP)

Oman's health ministry announced a record 119 deaths from Covid-19 over the past three days, as the country struggles with its worst outbreak during the pandemic.

The country recorded 5,517 new cases, and there are now 489 patients in intensive care, the ministry announced on Sunday. 

Oman has been struggling with the current case load, with the main hospital in the capital Muscat running out of beds in its intensive care unit more than a week ago, according to state-run Oman News Agency. 

Health Minister Dr Ahmed Mohammed al-Saeedi said last week that Oman's health sector has been "exhausted" by the current outbreak. 

He said he was concerned that many of the deaths were among over-60s who had turned down vaccinations. He said anyone promoting rumours about vaccines should be punished by law. 

"Encouraging people to follow the procedures that protect them from the virus is our Islamic, national and professional duty," the minister said.

Oman has lagged behind other Gulf countries in vaccinating its population. Reuters analysis in mid-June showed it had vaccinated only around 6 percent of its population since the campaign began in May, compared with 72 percent in the United Arab Emirates. 

The country has struggled to procure enough vaccines but promised to push on with its campaign when new supplies arrived two weeks ago. 

Oman offers the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines but not China's state-owned Sinopharm, which was initially used by UAE.