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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Designated children’s COVID facility opens in Qatar as numbers hit record high


Qatar recorded the highest daily reported cases on Monday, including many children, prompting authorities to designate a children-only COVID centre

Following public demand, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) designated a special facility for children with COVID-19 who require hospitalization as Qatar faces a hefty third wave.

The facility, Al Wakra Pediatric COVID-19 Centre, is located on the Al Wakra Hospital campus and has a capacity of 39 inpatient beds, including 4 intensive care and 22 observation beds for short-stay patients.

The center can have up to 140 inpatient beds if needed, the corporation stated.

The move comes in light of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases across the country, which caused tens of children to be rushed to the hospital for immediate care after the onset of symptoms of the new Omicron variant.

On Monday, the Gulf nation reported 3,878 daily Covid-19 cases— the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic. Though the number of how many of those are children is unknown, health authorities revealed earlier this month that children were the most affected during the third wave.

Last week, several people from the public, including prominent influencers, called on authorities to intervene and designate a facility for children, given the increasing number of cases and lack of availability at hospitals. On social media, some users stated that the pediatric departments were “extremely full” and families had to wait in crowded areas for hours to be seen by a doctor, allowing a significant chance for infection.

Read also: Spike in Covid-19 cases: Public negligence or large scale events?

Now, this state-of-the-art facility will help the public healthcare system provide access to high-quality care for young patients infected with the virus.

The centre is now open for only confirmed COVID-19 pediatric patients and will provide two services: evaluation and home isolation or medical observation and hospital admission.

Other children suspected of having COVID-19 and displaying symptoms are urged to visit one of HMC’s four Pediatric Emergency Centers: Al Sadd, Al Dayeen, Airport, and Al Rayan.

Booster approved for 12-15-year-olds

To further try and curb the spread of the virus, authorities have announced that children aged 12-15 who received their second dose six months ago can now take the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster shot to increase their antibodies.

“The decision is in line with the recent studies that demonstrate the safety and efficacy of booster doses using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in this age group,” the Ministry of Public Health posted on their website.

Read also: Why some vaccines require boosters and others don’t.

In May 2021, the ministry approved the vaccine for the same age group, and since then, nine of out ten children in Qatar have received two doses of the vaccine.

The jabs have proved to be safe and effective for the age group, according to the World Health Organization, with only minor side effects reported.

The MOPH has urged all parents to support their children in getting their booster dose to ensure their safety as cases continue to rise.

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