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Posted On: 3 February 2020 02:00 pm
Updated On: 6 March 2020 10:40 am

What is Qatar doing to prevent Coronavirus from entering the country?

Nabeela
Nabeela
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On Sunday 2 February 2020, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) in Qatar confirmed that there were no cases of the novel Coronavirus in Qatar. 25 people were tested for the deadly virus and the lab tests of all 25 have come back as negative. Previously, 23 of these individuals were cleared of the virus, but two were unconfirmed. These two have also now been cleared, based on a report by QNA.

According to the MoPH, people who had not visited China in the past 14 days, had a very low chance of contracting the Coronavirus.

Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the Coronavirus outbreak in China is a public health emergency of international concern. The organization took the decision, which is the highest level of warning, after a meeting with an independent panel of experts amid growing evidence of the spread of the human virus outside China in about 18 countries.

What is Qatar doing to prevent Coronavirus from entering the country?

Qatar's Pandemic Preparedness Committee, which includes representatives from the MoPH, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC), Hamad International Airport (HIA), Qatar Airways and other partners, is constantly monitoring the situation and implementing the necessary procedures and precautions to try to keep the Coronavirus out of Qatar.

What is the Coronavirus?

What is Qatar doing to prevent Coronavirus from entering the country?

Though no cases of the Novel Coronavirus 2019 (officially named as “2019-nCoV”) have been reported in Qatar, it is important that residents of Qatar are fully aware of what the virus is, the signs and symptoms, and what action to take if they suspect they may be at risk.

    What is Qatar doing to prevent Coronavirus from entering the country?

    Novel Coronavirus 2019 is a novel (new) strain of coronavirus that was first identified in Wuhan, Hebei Province, China. The Novel Coronavirus 2019 is a respiratory illness affecting people in China and sev​eral other countries around the world. The majority of cases have been reported in China, with a small number of cases (approximately 171 cases) also reported in other countries including Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, USA, Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and Spain. The first death outside of China was reported of a 44-year-old Chinese man who died in the Philippines after travelling there from Wuhan, according to The Economic Times.

    According to the updated clinical and epidemiological features of the emerging virus, the novel coronavirus is considered to be very similar to many coronaviruses that are typically transmitted from animals to humans. However, this novel virus is reported to have been transmitted from human to human with a course of illness that ranges from mild to moderate symptoms in the majority of people with the infection. Nevertheless, severe symptoms and complications or even death may occur in people who suffer chronic diseases and lowered immunity.

    There is currently no vaccine available to protect against the China Novel Coronavirus. Though there is no specific antiviral treatment available, people infected with the Novel Coronavirus 2019 receive medical care to relieve their symptoms.

    Protect yourself from Coronavirus and other viral infections by following the tips in our video: https://www.iloveqatar.net/videos/general/protect-yourself-from-viral-infection-in-qatar-by-following-these-easy-tips

    The MoPH is monitoring the situation in Qatar round the clock

    What is Qatar doing to prevent Coronavirus from entering the country?
    Image credit: MoPH

    The MoPH stressed that the health sector in the country is fully prepared to deal with any suspected cases and continues to raise the degree of surveillance, preparedness and precautionary measures to prevent the entry of the disease into the country and deal with any suspected cases.

    The ministry has established protocols to deal with suspected cases and isolation measures, as it has allocated several resources to implement these measures, the most important of which is communicating with the public and workers in the public and private health sector periodically.

    Moreover, the national guidelines and protocols on the investigation and management of the Novel Coronavirus cases have been circulated to all public as well as private healthcare facilities in the country. Residents are being asked to report any suspected respiratory infections, especially for travellers who have returned in the last two weeks from countries where the disease is reported to have been documented, according to the MoPH.

    A new website created to give people in Qatar trusted Coronavirus information

    What is Qatar doing to prevent Coronavirus from entering the country?
    Image credit: MoPH Qatar

    The MoPH has repeatedly stressed the importance of relying on official sources when obtaining information about Coronavirus. That is why, in collaboration with Hamad Medical Corporation and the Primary Health Care Corporation, the ministry has created a website (https://www.moph.gov.qa/english/Pages/Coronavirus2019.aspx) to provide residents of Qatar with a trusted source of information related to the Novel Coronavirus 2019 from China. Information on the website is available in the following languages: Arabic, English, Hindi, Chinese, French, and Malayalam.

    **The Rapid Response Team at the MoPH operates around the clock. The team's hotline numbers are +974 66740948 and +974 66740951.

    HMC is fully equipped to deal with all types of viruses

    What is Qatar doing to prevent Coronavirus from entering the country?

    HMC's Communicable Disease Centre is fully equipped with all necessary equipment and tools required for isolation and dealing with such cases, due to the great capabilities available in this specialised hospital, especially in terms of isolation rooms, treatment techniques and the availability of medical personnel trained in dealing with injuries that carry an infection. HMC has also set up a laboratory to detect the virus early, and has obtained laboratory tools and tests from international bodies with the aim of conducting tests on the virus as quickly as possible to analyse the results within 24 hours, according to QNA.

    In addition, HMC, with the support of the MoPH, currently has sufficient quantities of masks, gloves and other protective clothing, to meet the needs of the country and additional quantities will be imported soon, but the most important thing now is to follow the procedures and detect cases early, in addition to the isolation of patients and examination of their contacts.

    PHCC is playing its part in preventing Coronavirus

    What is Qatar doing to prevent Coronavirus from entering the country?
    Image credit: PHCC

    PHCC's Dr. Khalid Alawad has confirmed to QNA that since the announcement of the Novel Coronavirus in China, all health centres in Qatar have notified their medical staff of the necessary procedures for suspected cases and how to transfer them to the relevant medical authorities.

    Qatar Airways is taking precautions so the Coronavirus doesn't enter Qatar

    What is Qatar doing to prevent Coronavirus from entering the country?

    Qatar Airways is also suspending all flights to and from China effective from today (3 February 2020), due to significant operational challenges caused by entry restrictions imposed by several countries, according to a press release by Qatar Airways.

    As the safety and security of its passengers and employees is of the highest importance, it is monitoring recent health concerns in China, working closely with all relevant authorities and following international health regulations. The 5-star Qatari airline does not have an estimated return time to normal operations between Qatar and China, and operations will depend on the circumstances and a constant review of the epidemic in China.

    In the same press release, the airline's Group Chief Executive Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said:

    “We have been placed in a challenging operational situation where the airline cannot continue with its global operations as a result of these restrictions on anyone who has visited China. If we continue operations, the significant numbers of crew who would have travelled to China, would be limited to operate on certain flights, reducing our operational effectiveness. We will immediately resume our operations to China once the governmental restrictions are lifted."

    Qatar Airways crews are also well trained and if any suspicious passengers are found on aircraft, the pilot will inform the HIA ground staff prior to arrival and health care workers will take further necessary steps.

    HIA is screening passengers so the Coronavirus doesn't enter Qatar

    What is Qatar doing to prevent Coronavirus from entering the country?
    Image credit: MoPH Qatar

    The HIA is taking precautionary measures by ensuring passengers travelling from China are screened using the Thermo Scanners. These passengers have to go through the scanners which detects their body temperature. If anyone is found with increased temperature, these passengers will be escorted to a designated clinic at HIA for further testing and examination. If they still meet the criteria, they will be transferred to a designated hospital specially set up for Coronavirus investigation. Until the final result comes out, everyone will be placed in isolated rooms and monitored round the clock, according to the MoPH.

    MoPH advises people in Qatar to avoid travelling to China till the Coronavirus epidemic is over

    The Director of Public Health in Qatar Sheikh Dr. Mohammed Bin Hamad Al Thani and the MoPH renewed their call to avoid travelling to China, stressing that though there is no travel ban for China, it is better not to travel there right now, when the Coronavirus is spreading in China with Chinese health authorities confirming 2,829 new cases of the Novel Coronavirus infection and 57 deaths, along with 5,173 new suspected cases reported, according to the QNA.

    The Head of the Infectious Diseases Division Dr. Abdullatif Mohamed Al Khal has also stressed the importance of avoiding travelling to China now, and has called on travellers returning from China to monitor their health for two weeks, in terms of body temperature and coughing, and to seek medical attention immediately if any Novel Coronavirus-like symptoms appear.

    No evidence that packages and goods entering Qatar from China are infectious

    What is Qatar doing to prevent Coronavirus from entering the country?

    According to Dr. Al Khal, in news from the QNA, so far there has been no evidence that packages and goods coming from China could be a source of infection. The American Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has also confirmed this, but it is still recommended to wash hands properly after dealing with packages and goods from China.

    From previous analyses, WHO believes that this new Coronavirus does not survive for long on objects like packages and letters (The Economic Times).

    Precautions to take while travelling

    What is Qatar doing to prevent Coronavirus from entering the country?
    Image credit: The Economic Times

    This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation and we will continue to provide updated information as it becomes available.

    How worried are you about the Coronavirus? Are you travelling soon? What kind of precautions will you take? Do let us know your thoughts in our Comments section. Like and share the article - it keeps us going!