Posted on April 03, 2020

While many countries across the globe see  COVID-19 cases overwhelming for healthcare systems, Qatar is at the forefront flattening the curve through different measures.

As part of measures taken to control the spread of the virus in the community, like other countries in the world, competent authorities in Qatar have asked the public to stay at home, keep social distancing and maintain personal hand hygiene. Around the world governments are almost taking similar measures to ensure safety of people enforcing social distancing.

But Qatar’s actions to curb the spread of COVID-19 are beyond, testing, quarantine, travel limitations, and social distancing. Qatar is strictly enforcing laws. Amir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani issued  Law No. 9 of 2020 amending some of the provisions of the Decree Law No. 17 of 1990 on the prevention of infectious diseases, on March 26. On the same day, World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus lauded the efforts made by Qatar "to implement a comprehensive approach to control COVID-19".

In a tweet, Dr Ghebreyesus said he had a "good call" with the Minister of Public Health H E Dr. Hanan Mohammed Al Kuwari. He congratulated her for H H the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani's leadership to contain the novel coronavirus and the efforts made to implement a comprehensive approach to suppress and control COVID-19. Only on March 16 did the WHO call on nations to test every suspected case of the coronavirus pandemic to contain its spread. But having checked more than 22,300 people for coronavirus as of Tuesday, Qatar has one of the highest COVID-19 testing rates in the world, the Ministry of Public Health has said. Qatar’s proactive testing system is an achievement few countries can claim and is in contrast to the situation in several countries.

Amid the healthcare sector’s ongoing measures to combat COVID-19 in Qatar, H E Dr. Al Kuwari has said that Qatar has appropriately prioritized 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. Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology (DLMP) is an essential part of Qatar’s COVID-19 preparedness and response plan. 

According to H E Dr, Al Kuwari, 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. The Minister has said that 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. 

Also the team at the Surveillance Unit, based at the Ministry of Public Health, has been continuously monitoring the epidemiological situation since the outbreak of COVID-19 in China. The unit is working to proactively identify people in Qatar who may have been in contact with confirmed cases of COVID-19. Once identified, these people are placed under quarantine – to prevent possible further spread – and tested to determine their status, the Ministry of Public Health has said.  During the treatment process, the infected persons with COVID-19 are divided into three groups. The  first group is for cases with mild or no symptoms and they are isolated so that the virus does not spread to other individuals and these are monitored by the medical and nursing staff until the recovery phase is complete, where periodic laboratory tests are performed and often after two to three weeks, the tests turn negative.

The second group is for severe cases, which often have inflammation of the lower respiratory tract (lungs) and are isolated and hospitalized and given a set of drugs to reduce the severity of inflammation. The third group is for those who need intensive care, and they will be given a larger set of drugs and put on a ventilator for several days to help their immune system to overcome the virus, and then gradual improvement will be noticed. Dr Abdullatif Al Khal, co-chair of the National Epidemic Preparation Committee, said that most of the diagnosed cases are still subject to isolation and treatment. The majority of cases are between 20s and 40s and some people are in intensive care.

Dr Al Khal has confirmed that there is no scientific evidence that taking medications used in hospitals prevents infection with the virus, advising people to avoid such drugs because of their side effects. Dr Al Khal expressed concern over the potential increase of cases who need intensive care, especially those who suffer from diabetes, heart, kidney, and lung diseases, and those who take immunosuppressive drugs and the elderly, stressing the need to protect this group and advised them to stay at home. He has also emphasized that there is no relation between infection with the virus and age, as the disease may be severe for youth as well.

In regard with the signs of recovery, Dr Al Khal explained that for those with severe symptoms, the signs of recovery are low temperature, less coughing, easier to breathe, and a laboratory examination of respiratory secretions has shifted from positive to negative. The Ministry of Public Health and other authorities continued to stress the importance of keeping social distancing and take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Qatar has played its full role in providing all conditions, taking all decisions, applying all procedures, and publishing all instructions to reduce gatherings and limit the spread of the disease.

source: The Peninsula