Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

Health officials say cases have increased since November, but a significant increase in the past two weeks.

Qatar sees the start of a third coronavirus wave, a rise in cases fueled by the Omicron variant, a health official said.

Dr Soha al-Bayat, head of vaccination at the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), said in a television interview on Sunday that “most of the new COVID-19 cases are related to the Omicron variant”, and added that cases have been increasing since November in the country, but a significant increase has been seen over the past two weeks.

“According to the primary available information, Omicron is a fast spreader, but the symptoms are mild or moderate without any serious complications,” al-Bayat said on Qatar TV.

Qatar has reported more than 252,000 cases of coronavirus since the onset of the pandemic, including 618 deaths.

It also administered more than five million vaccine doses and launched a booster campaign late last year.

“Most of the cases reported recently were in two groups: those who did not receive vaccination, including children, and those who took the two doses more than 6 months ago,” she added.

Qatar will host the Soccer World Cup later this year, the first time the tournament will take place in a Middle Eastern country.

In the run-up to the event, Qatar hosted several sporting events, including its opening Formula One GP and the FIFA Arab Cup which was completed on 18 December last year.

Only fully vaccinated individuals were allowed to attend the soccer tournament.

But while organizers called for health and safety protocols and regulations to be followed at the events, large crowds and a widespread lack of social distance were seen, sparking fears among residents for a revival of the outbreak in the country.

The 2021 FIFA Arab Cup final between Tunisia and Algeria last month in Qatar [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

Last month, al-Bayat said the increase in business was due to “negligence by people”.

“When we said that a person is not allowed to wear a face mask in open places, there was a condition – such as these places should not be overcrowded. “When people started neglecting to wear face masks, we noticed an increase in cases of COVID-19, seasonal flu and asthma.”

On December 31, Qatar announced new restrictions, including the need to wear a mask inside and out, amid the rise in cases.

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