Posted on March 21, 2020

The Supreme Committee for Crisis Management on Thursday held a meeting under the chairmanship of HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani to follow up the work of the various bodies engaged in the efforts to contain the coronavirus (Covid-19) and manage the crisis in a way that guarantees the health, safety and well-being of all who live in Qatar. The meeting was attended by ministers and heads of relevant bodies.

Addressing a press conference , HE the Spokesperson of the Supreme Committee for Crisis Management Lolwah bint Rashid bin Mohamed AlKhater announced the registration of eight new coronavirus (Covid-19) cases in the country, most of whom are expatriate workers, and two Qatari citizens, one who had returned from Italy and the other from the United Kingdom. She explained that all cases are subject to quarantine, adding that most of the cases, in general, are in a stable health condition, except six, who are in intensive care, wishing them a speedy recovery. She revealed that six more cases of Covid-19 have been cured, (four expats and two Qataris), bringing the total of cured people to 10 so far.

HE AlKhater announced that the Supreme Committee for Crisis Management decided to allocate hotlines to receive proposals and complaints, and the hotlines will be announced soon. She clarified that since the beginning of the crisis, Qatar has pursued the principle of transparency and the sharing of all information, which is the approach it intends to continue, stressing the necessity not to circulate rumours , and to rely on information from its official sources, including the accounts of the Government Communication Office and the Ministry of Public Health. HE the spokesperson reviewed the patterns of virus spread to date in Qatar, explaining that the novel coronavirus is a new phenomenon , so health authorities around the world and those in Qatar are constantly seeking to determine the characteristics of this epidemic and how to limit its spread.

She said: "From what we found in Qatar, there are two main patterns so far for the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19), which are: 1- The first chain of transmission was between arrivals, and it is called societal infections, and it turned out that its focus was from Street 1 to 32 in the Industrial Area that was later closed. 2- The second chain of transmission, which exists between Qataris and is not considered to be societal infections in most of them, but rather by citizens returning from some countries, especially European ones, and have been subjected to quarantine. She explained that this does not mean that the mentioned forms of transmission will not change, but this is what has been monitored so far, and it requires, especially among those coming from abroad, a lot of responsibility and precaution to preserve themselves in the first place and to preserve their family members as well.

HE AlKhater affirmed that the coming period is a critical stage for breaking these transitional chains, and requires everyone's solidarity and self-monitoring. The Ministry of Public Health has approved the policy of home quarantine as a second option for families coming from abroad and who don't show any symptoms of the disease and pass the initial medical examination. They are also required to sign a formal commitment to comply with the procedures approved by the relevant international institutions and the Ministry of Public Health, she explained. She added that in the case of not respecting this quarantine, legal procedures will be implemented, indicating that many countries have implemented this policy, and the first option remains quarantine in the facilities designated for the purpose.

Personal responsibility of individuals and their implementation of the necessary preventive measures are the primary factor in containing the virus and limiting its spread in this crucial period. HE the spokesperson advised the country's residents not to leave the house except for necessity and to limit gatherings, especially as the Cabinet has approved 80% of public sector employees to work from home. The official praised the commitment of many families who have been sending positive messages by following good practices.

During the meeting, officials revised the latest economic and commercial developments, she said and "it was found that the supply chains of goods was not affected and that there is a strategic stock of basic materials, as all relevant policies have been developed to deal with such crises since 2017". She said that there is ongoing work to establish more factories for some basic materials that the country may need in the coming period. Praising the role of many private companies, including contracting companies and individuals, who gave the most wonderful examples of solidarity in this crisis, she said some of them took the initiative to volunteer, adding that some companies, including contracting companies, provided their services and facilities free of charge, and some private companies not covered by the Amiri decision also exempted tenants from rental fees.

In this context, she announced that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry will open the door to receiving requests from companies that wish to provide voluntary services .She also pointed out that the Ministry of Public Health in cooperation with several institutions such as the Qatar Red Crescent Society and Qatar Charity and others will open the door to volunteering for individuals aged between 20 and 45 years for medical or logistical support, each according to his experience, according to the conditions determined by the Ministry of Public Health.

HE AlKhater that Qatar will overcome this crisis, noting the strong bonds of interdependence existing in the Qatari society. During the press conference, al-Khater said many people, especially those who returned from abroad, prefer to stay in hotels that have been designated for quarantine, though they have the option or home isolation or quarantine in hotels, which reflects a state of community awareness. She said that some family members do not want to mix with such people, which is a good thing. Its preferable if the person coming from one of the infected countries is isolated in the facilities designated by the state, especially if the house is not equipped for isolation. She said there are several facilities and hotels available that individuals can choose for quarantine.

Also, Al-Khater indicated hotlines will be available for any individual, who needs psychological support, advice, or other matters, adding that volunteers will be deployed and through them there will be more psychological support for all families. The representative of the Ministry of Public Health Dr Jameela Alkhowaiter al-Ajmi, who is also Executive Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Hamad Medical Corp, explained that isolation at home is for a person who has been in contact with a person infected with the virus but doesn't have the symptoms, so he has to isolate himself for 14 days. She explained that home isolation or quarantine is very important and considered one of the most important precautionary measures to contain the coronavirus, adding that the person is responsible to protect himself and his family.

Al-Ajmi said home isolation involves several steps, the most important of which is to isolate the person himself in his place, where it is preferable to have a private room, that has good ventilation and a private bathroom while avoiding mixing with visitors and family members. She said if the person shows symptoms of infection, he or she should contact the Ministry of Public Health to seek advice, with an emphasis on applying other preventive measures such as washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, with family members keen to clean house surfaces, as well as protecting children from transmission of the virus and training them on the method of home isolation.

Also, she said the person in house isolation must stay away from the elderly and people with chronic diseases, keep a distance between him and all family members, and stay in the isolation room for 14 days. Al-Ajmi explained that house isolation is to stay at home and isolate the person from the rest of the family, while under quarantine the person stays in the health facility in an isolated room, indicating that the responsibility is the same - whether the person is at home or quarantine in terms of applying preventive measures against the virus.

She added that the difference between home isolation and quarantine in facilities allocated by the state is that the person in the hospital quarantine is under comprehensive medical care, especially if health condition does not allow him to stay at home, so it's better to quarantine in the hospital. She pointed out that most people who enter quarantine need intensive care similar to those who have immunodeficiency problems, or the elderly, who have chronic diseases or the clinical condition is very severe and requires the presence of doctors.

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