Fadley Faisal & Izah Azahari
Those with no access to computers to report positive antigen rapid test (ART) results on the Ministry of Health’s online portal can send a WhatsApp message to 8333123.
This was said by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar at a press conference yesterday.
The minister also said the BruHealth app is being upgraded to include an ART result reporting function. There are also plans to distribute ART kits with QR codes.
Meanwhile, Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham addressed public concern over unanswered calls made to Darussalam Line 123.
The minister said Darussalam Line 123 is being upgraded to handle up to 1,500 calls per day as daily inquiries have reached 8,000 calls, and expressed hope that the increase to 150 lines from 90 will meet the overwhelming demand.
With the surge in cases, calls to Health Advice Line 148 and Darussalam Line 123 have increased and the Ministry of Health (MoH) requests the public to be patient as both lines are operating 24 hours a day. Callers are also asked to keep the calls brief and courteous.
Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said the local Omicron variant differs from imported cases with local cases being the BA.2 sub-variant while imported cases are the BA.1 sub-variant, adding that the BA.2 sub-variant is known to be more contagious but symptoms for fully-vaccinated or boosted individuals tend to be mild.
The minister reiterated that regardless of the COVID-19 variant in question, an unvaccinated individual still carries a higher risk of infection.
Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said local Omicron cases are similar to outbreaks in other countries where 90 per cent of the cases experience mild symptoms.
However, he said, “this does not mean vaccinated individuals are immune to the virus. They should continue to adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs) such as wearing face masks”.
The minister said of the 15,000 active cases in the Sultanate, over 700 (4.5 per cent) are children aged 11 and under. None of them are in Category 3 and above, with most either asymptomatic or exhibit mild symptoms.
Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham also clarified that there is no difference in isolation period between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.