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Posted On: 30 April 2020 11:20 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 09:12 am

MoPH holds conference to discuss latest developments on coronavirus (COVID-19)

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In a press conference held this evening by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), Dr. Abdullatif Mohamed Al Khal who is the Chair of the National Strategic Group on COVID-19 and Head of the Infectious Diseases Division at the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and Dr. Enas Al Kuwari, Chair of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at HMC talked about the latest developments with regards to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Qatar and the latest testing procedures for the virus.

MoPH holds conference to discuss latest developments on coronavirus (COVID-19)
Image credit: GCO Qatar

Dr. Abdullatif Mohamed Al Khal statement at the conference

  • The number of daily cases continues to increase and this is expected to continue for some time. Most countries around the world are seeing a steeper rise in daily numbers before they see a leveling off.
  • While the number of cases continues to increase, it is encouraging that the percentage of critically ill/decreased is very low.
  • The overwhelming majority of people with COVID-19 in Qatar experience only mild, flu-like symptoms and make a full recovery.
  • This week a significant milestone was reached with 1,000 patients having fully recovered a number that will continue to increase.
  • The preventive measures such as physical distancing have not stopped the spread of the virus but they have reduced the speed of the spread and enabled the healthcare system to provide high-quality care to patients who require intense medical treatment.
  • The healthcare sector has rapidly activated significant capacity to house COVID-19 patients in suitable facilities and has capacity for many more if needed.
  • Life will return to normal as soon as it is safe to do so-but this will be a gradual return. Only when we are certain that we are past the peak of the virus in Qatar can we begin to consider removing some of the restrictions that are currently in place.
  • It is essential that people continue to play their part and follow preventive recommendations.

Dr. Enas Al Kuwari, Chair of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at HMC's statement at the conference

There are two kinds of COVID-19 tests:

1. PCR molecular test: the gold standard test using a swab of the back of the mouth and the top of the nose to determines if someone is COVID-19 positive.

2. Serological test: using a finger prick this test delivers rapid results and confirmes if someone has been exposed to COVID-19 previously, but does not determine if they are COVID-19 positive

There are three elements of our testing strategy overall:

1. Healthcare related testing: provided for people who come to a healthcare setting and display COVID-19 symptoms

2. Public health testing: 1) Contact tracing-this is where anyone who has had contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive is tested 2)Random sampling - where a sample population area is chosen and people randomly tested. This provides a better understanding of how widespread the virus is.

3. People returning from abroad. This has helped successfully identify people coming into the country who are COVID-19 positive.

HMC's laboratory has significantly increased the number of tests it is able to do each day as well as reducing the time it takes to process test results