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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Doha’s swift response prevented a million extra COVID-19 cases: health official

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The director of Qatar’s infectious diseases unit has reassured the public this week, noting the country’s effective approach to curb the coronavirus.

An additional million cases in Qatar were prevented because of the country’s rapid and effective health measures since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, according to Dr. Abdullatif Al Khal, Chair of the National Strategic Group on COVID-19 and Head of the Infectious Diseases Division at Hamad Medical Corporation.

The country’s measures dodged a large number of cases that would have overwhelmed the nation’s healthcare system, Dr. Al Khal said during a virtual event titled ‘Qatar’s Response To The Covid-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned’.

“Due to the interventions we implemented, we flattened the curve to the extent that the peak number of infections was 79 percent lower than it would have been had no public health measures been taken,” said Dr. Al Khal.

The Qatari health official added that the country’s restrictions helped maintain its low mortality rate without prioritising any case over another. 

“Every death means so much to a family and to the country, and is an extremely sad loss. However, with excellent standards of care and early detection and treatment, we have kept mortality rates very low. The response of the healthcare system on criticality and mortality has been remarkable,” he said.

Read also: Qatar shifts to ‘rotating attendance’ as students return to school

The remarks came as an announcement confirmed Qatar’s schools will soon shift to ‘rotating attendance’, where students will be attending school for in-person learning ahead of their exams starting from November.

In response to concerns regarding the prevalence of school infections among children, Dr. Al Khal reassured the public that the rate of the virus’ spread among this social group is less than 1 percent in total.

“The vast majority of children infected with the coronavirus have been infected outside the school premises, and the infection rate in schools is not concerning nor poses a threat to society at the present time,” said Dr. Al Khal.

He added that schools will be individually shut down for two weeks if it records infections in three classes, or 5 percent of its staff are infected.

Dr. Al Khal also stated that the infection rate is relatively stable despite the current fluctuations and that the spread is largely due to gatherings and people slacking on the cautionary measures in place, including wearing a mask.

“We have to wait a few months until we get the vaccine and everybody has to be patient and abide by the preventive and precautionary measures, especially the vulnerable categories,” he said.

Qatar currently has 2,892 active COVID-19 cases and recorded 225 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

More than 127,093 coronavirus patients have recovered in Qatar so far.


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