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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Highly contagious Covid-19 Delta variant detected in Qatar


In an interview with Qatar TV, a top health official confirmed that the deadly Delta variant of Covid-19 has been detected in the country.

The Delta variant of Covid-19, which is more contagious than earlier strains and causes more severe symptoms, has been detected in Qatar, a top health official confirmed on Monday.

“The Delta variant first appeared (in the world) last February, but it arrived in Qatar four months later,” confirmed Hamad General Hospital Medical Director Dr Yousef Al Maslamani in an interview with Qatar TV.

Dr Al Maslamani said that proactive health and safety measures have aided in delaying the arrival of the variant in Qatar, noting a rapidly moving vaccination campaign will also help strengthen the community’s immunity.

“This gave us an opportunity to increase vaccination rates and enhance immunity in society – for example almost 85 percent of people aged over 12 received at least one dose of the vaccine. And this is a large number, which contributed to providing excellent protection,” he added.

The health official revealed that Qatar’s reason for extending phase 3 of the the plan to lift Covid-19 restrictions was due to information at hand that helps identify the rate of the virus’ spread in the country.

Read also: New variants more severe but vaccines ‘provide way out’ of pandemic: Al Khal

“In recent days, the number of people infected with the virus has increased, and almost all criteria are in the second and third stage. So, scientifically, it is illogical to move to another stage and open activities more at a time when the numbers are constantly increasing,” Dr Al Maslmani added.

The increase in infection numbers has been due to travel and social behaviours during Eid Al-Adha, he told Qatar TV. The number of daily infections was stable until the eighth day after the Islamic holiday. After that, infection numbers began to increase.

He stressed the need for those returning from travel to adhere to precautionary and quarantine measures, especially groups that need to home quarantine, in order to flatten the curve.

“Does the fourth stage mean the lifting of restrictions completely? We cannot completely lift the restrictions because scientifically, if you move from a stage with restrictions to the stage of complete conquest, the epidemic will return significantly,” said the medical director.

With regard to updating the travel policy for the six Asian countries, Dr Al Maslamani said “we take such decisions to protect society and the safety of the country.”

Now, all Covid19 mutations are present in Qatar, including the Delta mutation as a result of the return of travellers, especially from countries with high numbers of infections.

The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) announced the reimposing of quarantine rules for travellers coming from these six Asian countries.

As per the new rules, fully Covid-19 vaccinated travellers (who have received their vaccination in Qatar) from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Philippines coming to the Gulf state must now quarantine for two days at a hotel until a negative PCR swab tests sees them fit to leave the facility on the second day.

All other travellers from these countries are subject to a hotel quarantine of 10 days upon arriving to Qatar.

On Monday, Qatar recorded 150 new Covid-19 infections, 48 of which were among travellers.

So far, health authorities have reported 1,944 active Covid-19 cases and 601 deaths.

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