Coronavirus has become an unprecedented health challenge facing the whole world at this moment. As the coronavirus continues its march in Qatar as well, the country has massively mobilized national efforts to ensure the health and safety of citizens and residents against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Qatar has restricted the movement of population, imposed an inwards travel ban, canceled public events, banned social gatherings, closed schools in an attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus. In addition to that, community awareness, precautionary guidelines and full compliance with the directions of health authorities have been taken to overcome the coronavirus crisis.
Here’s an overview of how Qatar is dealing with the current situation amid coronavirus breakout.
Qatar's healthcare sector has adopted a proactive approach to confronting the pandemic. In line with this, Hazm Mebaireek General Hospital (HMGH) has been designated as a COVID-19 treatment facility and Muaither Health Center has been dedicated to the testing and detection of coronavirus. Moreover, Qatar has one of the highest COVID-19 testing rates in the world and patients are receiving free treatment.
New virtual healthcare services have been developed to ensure the safety of everyone by allowing patients to schedule an appointment with healthcare by dialing 16000 to have a virtual consultation with their healthcare provider, receiving medical advice, sick leave and get their medicine delivered to their doorstep.
Qatar has also built a dedicated quarantine building. The newly Umm Slal quarantine compound is composed of 32 buildings with capacity for 18,000 beds. The compound has been fully equipped to ensure comfort, safety and entertainment needs in addition to the necessary health services for quarantined people.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) is continuously stressing the importance of adherence to general hygiene measures that can help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases. Also Qatar Charity in cooperation with the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Health is distributing health kits to workers in different areas.
We have seen empty shelves and complaints of inconsiderate stockpiling are common issues in different countries as people are panic buying over the coronavirus pandemic. Canned goods, hand sanitizers, toilet paper, and water are among the many items quickly selling out and food stores in many countries are facing supply issues.
Fortunately, Qatar has a strategic stockpile of food supplies that are sufficient to meet the needs of citizens and residents for a long period of time. Though residents in Qatar also started panic buying in the initial stage of the outbreak, however, the Consumer Affairs department of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) ensured that Qatar has enough food in stock to meet the demand for over two years and that it is constantly monitoring price hikes.
Also, demand for hand sanitizers has been high and many people have been talking about the shortage of sanitizers in the market but that's only because of the sudden high volume of consumption which caused this temporary scene. The Ministry has worked in cooperation with the various concerned authorities to meet all the needs of the local market for medical masks, gloves, and sterilizers. Qatari companies are constantly producing hand sanitizers to ensure they are available and you may have already spotted them in some supermarkets already.
The Ministry also undertakes continuous inspection campaigns to control prices and prevent monopolistic practices. If you want to know the approved daily price of vegetables, fruits, and fish, you may visit the Ministry of Economy and Commerce website. You can even report any violations regarding price by calling 16001 or emailing [email protected]
Flexibility with visa terms
Those outside Qatar will be able to renew their Qatar identity cards (QID) without any penalties and will be allowed into the country once the entry ban is lifted even if their Qatar IDs have expired or if they have stayed more than six months out of Qatar.
Those who are unable to return home after having their jobs terminated can remain in Qatar with proper lodging. Read more here to know about the frequently asked questions about the renewal of visas and RP in Qatar.
To combat this epidemic, the Qatar Cabinet has taken several decisions, for example, reducing the number of workers present in the workplace to 20 percent of the total number of workers in each agency, stopping the temporary home services system provided by the hospitality companies.
Qatar also ensures that workers in quarantine and isolation will be paid a full salary without any deduction and it is mandatory for employers and companies to follow the policies. In regard to this, Muhammed Hassan al-Obaidly, assistant under-secretary for labor affairs at MADLSA, said: "We are working 24 hours through department concerned for wage protection system to monitor the companies on a daily basis, checking the transactions, sending messages directly to the companies who are found delaying the payments."
Due to the impact caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Qatar, and to support its valued Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), different banks are postponing all finance installments and documentary credits dues of SMEs for a number of months without any additional fees or profits.
The National Guarantee Program aims to support salaries and rents of companies in the private sector. To support the economic and financial sector within the framework of the precautionary measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus, Qatar adopted a gracious plan to support and provide financial and economic incentives, amounting to QR 75 billion for the private sector. Read more HERE.
Many shops, for example, shops in Souq Waqif and the Old Al Wakrah Al Khor Souq, Najada Market, Faleh and Asiri Markets near the Souq Waqif, Deira Market have been exempted from their rents for the next four months. Moreover, a number of sectors are exempt from electricity and water charges for a period of six months.
Katara Cultural Village in cooperation with Katara Forum for Qatari Farmers and the Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) launched a campaign to distribute five tonnes of vegetables every day to those in need in Qatar.
Qatar Charity has launched a donation campaign to provide computers for needy students, with the resumption of distance studies beginning next Sunday 22 March 2020. The Charity called on the public to donate devices, whether new or used, for distribution to needy students, noting that many families may not be able to provide the devices to all their children.
The Ministry of Interior has mobilized all its capabilities in the fight against coronavirus (COVID-19) and to protect society from the infectious disease. The concerned departments have been working to ensure the adherence of the people with safety guidelines. In order to ensure the safety of the people, all parts of the country the number of patrols operating in the field has increased, and patrols are deployed in all areas of the country to monitor compliance with the instructions issued by the competent authorities not to gather in public places and in Majlis, and to close the shops covered by the closure decision.
The Ministry of Municipality and the Environment has recently implemented comprehensive campaigns to monitor and raise awareness of health in various municipalities, which also included carrying out spraying and sterilization operations in some locations within the geographical limits of each municipality in the context of ensuring the health and safety of the public.
People around the globe are suffering from the shock of the coronavirus recession, with job losses, reduction of salaries, shortage of food supply and drastic long-term changes to how we live and work. For example, Barcelona proposed a reduction of 70% of the salaries during the State of Alarm. Moreover, millions of Americans already have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus crisis which could translate to a 32.1% unemployment rate.
Having said that here in Qatar we are still in a good situation being blessed by state-of-the-art healthcare facilities, enough stock of food products, and even having paid. Furthermore, we know a lot of residents are stuck outside of Qatar and they are eagerly waiting to return to meet their family or join back to their work. Even you are apart from the family, as long as you and your family members are healthy, you should take it positively so that you have the energy needed to weather this storm.
(Cover photo credit: Ashghal)
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