For the first time in seven months, the number of active COVID-19 cases in Qatar drops below 2,000.
For the first time since June, the total number of active coronavirus cases in Qatar has dropped below 2,000— a result of cross-community and governmental efforts to contain the virus and return to normality.
Furthermore, the number of reported daily cases have also been consistently and steadily decreasing, with the ministry reporting under 200 cases daily for sometime now. In addition, with only 243 reported deaths since the start of the pandemic, Qatar holds till now one of the lowest death rates globally, coupled with the highest recovery rate.
Although the government played an essential role in controlling the virus, the commitment from Qatar’s community, along with the exceptional efforts of healthcare workers have greatly assisted in the decline of Covid-19 cases in the country, authorities said last month.
With that being said, here are the latest developments of where we’re at:
The first batch of the coronavirus vaccine arrived in Qatar late on Monday December 21st, with the first phase of the vaccination campaign set to roll out on Wednesday December 23rd.
To add to the good news, officials announced back in October that the vaccine will be free of charge for all citizens and residents of the country, and will be taken according to the ministry’s guidelines.
The first phase of the vaccine distribution, from Dec 23-to-Jan. 31, 2021, only includes the elderly, people above 16+ with chronic diseases, and frontline workers.
According to health officials, the vaccine is voluntary and will be available at seven different health centres in different areas, including: Al Wajba, Leabaib, Al Ruwais, Umm Salal, Rawdat Al Khail, Al Thumama, and Muaither.
Qatar is also set to receive vaccines from US-based drug manufacturer, Moderna, which says it’s vaccine has a 94.5% effectiveness as well as the British Oxford-astrazeneca vaccine.
2-Travel and quarantine
With COVID-19 cases still rising in several countries globally, Qatar’s government has decided to extend hotel quarantine packages till February 15, 2021, for people coming from countries that are not on the low-risk list.
All those planning to return to Doha are advised to see the ministry’s website for the most up to date list of low-risk countries.
“Please do not book a ‘Welcome Home Package’ until you have read all of the information on this page, you have the approval to travel to Qatar, and you know what type of quarantine you will be required to complete,” Discover Qatar is urging citizens and residents on its website.
The website further explains that if you are searching for availability and no hotels are displayed, it is most likely that the daily arrival limit has been reached. In this case, you will need to amend your travel dates.
3- Schools and universities
Since November 1st, schools and universities saw a growing in-person attendance following the Ministry of Education [MOE] scrapping a previous decision giving parents an option between distance learning and blended learning. Since then, all school children and university students have been required to attend in-person classes on a rotational basis in what is called a “blended education system.”
All schools, staff and students must adhere to COVID-19 precautionary health measures or face repercussions, the health ministry warned.
Until now, public and private schools are obligated to divide the total number of classes with a maximum of 15 students in each class, leaving a distance of 1.5 meters between each person.
Other precautionary measures include mandatory wearing of masks and organised entry and exit of students to the school building to prevent crowding.
However, recent reports are suggesting that schools will return to full-time in person learning starting January. This has not been confirmed by the ministry as of yet however.
4- Restaurants, bars, malls, and public gatherings
People can continue to enjoy social spaces, such as bars, hotels, malls, and parks while following the ministry of health’s precautionary measures.
Precautionary measures include a minimum of 2m between each table and a maximum of 4 people per table (6 if from the same household). People must have a green Ehteraz to enter any public space.
Bars and restaurants are operating with a 50% capacity, while gatherings can have a maximum of 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.
Any non-resident or visitor to Qatar is prohibited from attending social gatherings until they have completed the quarantine period. And downloaded the Ehteraz app.
5- and finally, don’t forget!
Masks, masks, masks! These remain mandatory and must be worn by all, including any staff present. In addition, a social distance of a minimum 1.5 meters should be maintained in order to limit the chance of infections. And remember to wash your hands regularly and sanitize them too.