In a press conference tonight, Official Spokesperson of the Supreme Committee for Crisis Management, H.E. Lolwah AlKhater, gave the latest developments regarding Qatar's efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
The updates are as follows:
Ministry of Public Health
- The spokesperson for the Supreme Committee for Crisis Management reveals that the number of volunteers with the Ministry of Public Health, Qatar Charity, and the Qatari Red Crescent has reached approximately 35,000, pointing out that the Ministry of Public Health is now working with the relevant authorities to distribute volunteers as needed and expertise.
- On increasing the number of beds and whether it is an indication of the outbreak of the disease, Her Excellency Lolwah Al Khater explained that the increase was not related to any outbreak or increase in injuries, but has to do with taking all precautionary measures and with planning for the future.
- The establishment of two field hospitals by the Ministry of Health in cooperation with the Qatari Armed Forces to provide health care for non-life threatening cases. The capacity of the facilities is 4,645 beds, as medical care is provided 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With plans to establish similar field centers in various locations around Qatar, which will reach a capacity of 18000 beds in the next few weeks. H.E. Lolwah AlKhater added that the two facilities provide medical and nursing care around the clock. She noted that the facilities are comfortable, provide the appropriate nutrition, security, management of waste, in addition to internet service.
- The spokesperson for the committee says that the Ministry of Public Health worked to establish three mobile units for testing in the closed part of the industrial zone, in addition to that six ambulances roam the area for random examination, in order to ensure that they are free of the virus (Covid-19). She praised the cooperation of the residents of the area and their patience in these difficult times in addition to the cooperation of the relevant embassies to raise awareness and reassure their communities.
- The movement of food and medical supplies for residents of the industrial zone continues in coordination with the relevant authorities, where approximately 1,000 vehicles enter daily to transport essential materials while taking all necessary health precautions.
- We affirm that the State of Qatar is keen to provide the highest levels of medical services for all without exception and free of charge. State of Qatar will be one of the first countries to get any medicine that proves effective in treating Coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Her Excellency said that there are currently a lot of reports on companies around the world coming up with a drug or a vaccine, and noted that these reports are always taken into account whenever they come from an official source.
- The healthcare in the State of Qatar is accessible to everyone for free, noting in this context as an example that there is one of the rare medicines provided by the state for muscular dystrophy disease as a single dose only costs more than two million US dollars, yet is still available for free in the country.
- The State of Qatar is planning for the virus in accordance with the patterns of its spread that appeared in other areas, but that does not indicate an expectation that the country will necessarily go down the same path. She added that the number of tests done were very large compared to the confirmed cases, which is a good indicator. She maintained however that there was a need to take all the necessary precautions, the most important of which is social distancing and the other preventative measures.
- Co-Chair of the National Committee for Epidemiological Preparedness in the Ministry of Public Health and head of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Hamad Medical Corporation Dr. Abdullatif Al Khal said that the world is focusing on developing a cure for the Coronavirus. He pointed out that there are about 90 studies currently on a group of drugs, about 20 studies on different vaccinations in many countries, and experiments on new medicines that have not been produced commercially yet. He added that there are also studies on the drugs that are used in the treatment of some other diseases and experiments on the vaccine against the virus, stressing that all this is in the process of experiments until now.
- Dr. Abdullatif Al Khal explained that the results of some of these experiments began to be announced, but most of these experiments and their results have not been published yet, and there is no scientific evidence so far that there are effective drugs, there is some anecdotal news that there are effective drugs but not scientific evidence. Also, some results started to appear using old medicines, he added.
He pointed out that some limited and small experiments that are difficult to build upon a strong scientific conclusion indicate the possibility that they are useful.
Dr. Al Khal added that until the results of most of these experiments appear, in the State of Qatar, all medicines are provided for the treatment of patients, except for new, novel, or not yet commercially produced medicines.
- There is a new drug under trial in the United States of America, which has been around for a while, and it is available in the State of Qatar, where this drug reduces the violent immune reaction, and there are experiments in the United States that use this drug, where the comparison is made between patients who took this drug and those who didn't.
In the State of Qatar, this drug is being used for some severe cases, Dr. Al Khal explained.
- On the effect of the virus on smokers or those who performed gastric sleeve surgery, Dr. Al Khal stated that smoking, in general, weakens the immunity in the lungs, adding that smokers are more affected by the virus compared to non-smokers who are of the same age group. He added that for people who performed gastrectomies, there are no studies or indications that they are more affected by the Coronavirus.
- Regarding the contracts that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry will sign and the type of products that will be provided in this framework, Assistant Undersecretary for Trade Affairs at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry Saleh Majid Al Khulaifi said that the products include main goods, namely wheat, powdered milk, rice, frozen meat, sugar, and oil.
- Al Khulaifi pointed out that this step aims to raise the current stock, as these materials in the current stock are available under the supervision of "food security", but the current stage aims to raise the storage capacity of the state, and to ensure the presence of reserves of these main products in the event of any supply disruption.
Ministry of Commerce and Industry
- A representative of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry emphasizes raising the current stock of basic materials, which are wheat, milk, rice, frozen meat, sugar, and oil. This will increase the current stock and storage capacity of the country.
- Her Excellency said that within the framework of the states plan to secure the flow of imports to the local market of food and consumer goods and supplies in sufficient quantities at reasonable prices and in high quality to meet the needs of citizens and residents, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry will sign contracts this week with 14 companies to raise the strategic stock of food and consumer goods.
- In this regard, she stressed that the materials are sufficiently available, and stressed the necessity of not crowding into supermarkets and foodstuff stores to preserve safety.
- Also, she clarified that the transportation unit at the Amiri Air Force Qatari supervised, in cooperation with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the operating of regular flights to the People's Republic of China to provide and meet all the needs of the local market of masks and medical sterilizers.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- H.E. Lolwa Al-Khater refers to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs inviting citizens, children of Qataris, Qatari and Qatari husbands abroad to register their data through the Foreign Ministry application and the Ministry's website, in order to communicate with them in emergency situations.
- Her Excellency stressed that the State of Qatar does not forget in this crisis its brothers and friends who are doing their part to combat the epidemic, as the State of Qatar has sent a number of medical shipments to friendly countries to combat this virus, including aid directed to the Palestinian brothers. She pointed out that the Ministry of Public Health is in constant contact with its counterparts in different countries and the WHO to update the latest developments and solutions that can be applied to limit the spread of the virus.
- She affirmed that the State of Qatar will continue to provide assistance and support to all countries to combat this epidemic.
- It also pointed out that the Qatar Central Bank also issued a circular to banks operating in the country and money exchange houses regarding the facilitation of electronic money transfers procedures abroad and the provision of electronic services to the workers category, and the announcement of all available electronic services by various means.
- She said that the loans mentioned in the circular did not include the personal loans granted by the salary guarantee.
- The circular also stipulated that a repurchase window (Repo) be allocated, with a zero rate, used by banks to postpone loan installments or grant new loans, as well as the fees imposed on points of sale (POS) and ATM withdrawal fees.
- Her Excellency clarified that, based on the directives of HH the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, which was announced in the first set of decisions, Qatar Central Bank issued a circular to banks and money exchanges operating in the country regarding the postponement of outstanding loan installments and interest for the affected sectors, for a period of six months from 16/3/2020.
Ministry of Education
- H.E. Fawzia Al-Khater, Assistant Undersecretary for Educational Affairs at the Ministry of Education: Students of public schools have not been exempted from the tests, and we mean the 12th-grade level, which is intended to take the test at the test headquarters. There will be tests for grade 12 and will take place on the specified dates beginning in June. The tables will announce the locations of these tests and they will be for day students in government schools, as well as evening students or adult education.
- There is no intention to end the academic year and are keen on continuing the educational process so that students do not stop studying.
- Distance learning is an opportunity to gain new experiences for students.
- Private schools that apply our national curricula are treated the same way as our government schools and we are in contact with them.
Source: Qatar Television