Her Excellency (H.E.) Minister of Public Health of Dr. Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari said Qatar has appropriately prioritised diagnostic testing and supported the laboratory response network to ensure the ability to test for potential cases of COVID-19, which is allowing for the better protection of the population.
As of 17 March, almost 8,400 people in Qatar have been tested for COVID-19 Her Excellence said stressing that the State's proactive program of testing means Qatar has one of the highest testing rates in the world.
H.E. Dr. Al Kuwari made these remarks during her meeting, on Tuesday with staff at Hamad Medical Corporation's (HMC) Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology (DLMP).
Her Excellency explained that Qatar is committed to being open and transparent throughout the testing process, and that data is now regularly published on the website of the Ministry of Public Health.
She said local testing capacity is an important step in speeding up the testing process so that the information needed to respond quickly and efficiently is available. Her Excellency said HMC's DLMP is an essential part of Qatar's COVID-19 preparedness and response plan.
Explaining the COVID-19 testing process, Chairperson of the DLMP Dr. Ajayeb Al Nabet said: "Very early on we quickly mobilized resources, equipment and staff to rapidly and effectively respond to this issue.
HMC's laboratories now operate round-the-clock in three shifts to process tests for suspected COVID-19 cases, she said. pointing that results are issued at 9 am, 5 pm and 10 pm daily and critical cases can be tested on an individual basis.
"We are also in the process of introducing new equipment that will enable us to do fully automated, round-the-clock testing that will significantly reduce the length of time it takes to get test results," she said.
"The DLMP has a team of highly qualified consultants, scientists and technical staff who have evaluated many systems to ensure we have the best technology required to detect viruses like COVID-19. The DLMP performs over 20.5 million tests each year, providing a comprehensive range of specialised laboratory services for the people in Qatar," added Dr. Al Nabet.
It is noteworthy that the DLMP's extensive laboratory network has been accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) since 2014. The international body provides the world's most recognized laboratory accreditation program, which is considered the global gold standard for laboratory management.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has set up a dedicated, round-the-clock call center to answer all questions and inquiries related to COVID-19. The hotline number is 16000 and is toll-free. Any resident who experiences fever, cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing, and has traveled to countries affected by coronavirus, or had contact with an infected person, in the last 14 days should immediately call the MoPH hotline.
The MoPH has stated that people should five follow basic infection control practices to protect themselves and others from the spread of COVID-19, summarized in Washing hands regularly with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand sanitiser, particularly after touching objects or after shaking hands; covering mouth and nose when sneezing, and disposing used tissues; avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth; avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illnesses; and limiting contact with other people in case of showing any symptoms including cough, sneezing, and fever.
Cover image credit: GCO
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