A press conference for the Ministry of Public Health was held Tuesday evening to discuss the latest developments and statistics related to Corona Virus (COVID-19). Dr. Abdul Latif Al-Khal - Chairman of the Strategic Group to Address Corona Virus (Covid-19) and Head of the Department of Communicable Diseases, Hamad Medical Corporation along with Dr. Hamad Al Romaihi, Director of Health Protection and Communicable Disease Control at the Public Health Department and co-chair of the National Pandemic Preparation Committee led the press conference.
Here are the COVID-19 updates:
Decrease in numbers
The pace of the spread of the Corona epidemic (COVID-19) in the world is accelerating
The epidemic in the State of Qatar is gradually declining, thanks to God, and the preference for the precautionary measures taken
We are now past the peak of the virus in Qatar and we are seeing the number of new infections come down each week.
The number of people being admitted to the hospital each day with COVID-19 is also falling.
There is a general decrease in the number of daily cases with complications from the disease that need admitting to intensive care, as the total number currently in intensive care is 225 cases, 110 of which were placed on ventilators.
Increase in numbers
We are seeing an increase in the number of deaths in recent weeks and this is due to people who were infected at the peak of the virus several weeks ago.
There has been an increase in positive cases among Qatari nationals and expat professionals. The incidence of COVID-19 infection among the category of professional citizens and residents "engineers, doctors, teachers, and others" is increasing despite the decrease in total infections in the State of Qatar.
This is of great concern as this population group is the one which has the highest proportion of elderly people and people with chronic conditions.
Now more than ever is the time to be cautious and protect those most at risk.
It is vital that we continue to protect the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions
The average age of people admitted to intensive care is 50 years, and an increase in the number of citizens entering intensive care has recently been observed due to the increasing number of cases among citizens.
Gradual lifting of restrictions
We are midway through Phase 1 of the lifting of restrictions but we can only move to Phase 2 if the data shows continual improvement.
If the degree of caution declines among the members of society, it is very likely that the pandemic will return in the form of a new wave that may take us back to square one.
Dr. Abdullatif Al Khal reaffirmed the need to be more careful than before and to continue to apply social distance, maintain sterilization of hands, wear a protective mask, and observe caution when the person is near a family member of the elderly or with chronic diseases, reduce the number of social visits and limit them to 15 minutes, and wear the protective mask and keep a safe distance during visits.
It is essential that people follow all preventive advice and measures as the restrictions are lifted.
We all have a part to play in the successful lifting of restrictions and I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that we all take responsibility for our role
We are at a critical time for these people and unless we adhere to strict preventive measures we could see cases and ultimately deaths increasing in our most vulnerable people
No member of society should be complacent - though the risk of serious symptoms is low for young and healthy people. they can easily be carriers of the virus and pass it on to contacts who are elderly or have chronic conditions
Everyone has a role to play int the lifting of restrictions and protecting the elderly and people with chronic conditions.
Easing restrictions may lead to the return of the virus, so the Ministry of Public Health has set up nine indicators for follow-up, including for example the numbers of cases entering the hospital and the percentage of positive examinations that are carried out daily, as these indicators are sensitive and the Ministry of Public Health evaluates them daily and weekly and then makes recommendations to the Cabinet about progress and transition from one stage to another.
What the Ministry of Public Health is doing
At MoPH our surveillance team continues to track and trace all cases to identify potential new cases and gain an understanding of how the virus was transmitted
We continue to see examples of people ignoring the preventive measures, resulting in one or even multiple positive cases within families and contacts
Our tracing system has shown on many occasions how young and healthy people have ignored social and physical distancing and this has led to them contracting the virus and passing it on to family members
Avoid family and social visits
There are several families who were infected with Coronavirus as a result of family mixing.
We advise avoiding family visits during this period, and we call for caution and care to protect the elderly and the owners of chronic diseases.
Care must be taken to keep social spacing and wear masks when leaving the house.
The early detection of infection transmission chain through Ehteraz and the other usual means has considerably reduced any further transmission of the disease