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Sunday, January 23, 2022

‘Highly infectious’ UK variant to blame for rise in Covid-19 cases


The vaccinations available in Qatar have shown their efficiency in preventing severe symptoms of the new strains. 

The UK variant of Covid-19 has significantly contributed to the rise in the country’s daily cases due to its high transmissible element, the Ministry of Public Health [MoPH] said.

According to recent studies, the UK variant has been known to cause severe Covid-19 symptoms for many patients, leading them to be hospitalised to ensure a safe recovery. Those affected by the UK variant are more likely to die due to severe complications, the ministry explained.

This is due to the severity of the strain, Dr. Ahmed Al-Mohammed, Acting Head of the Intensive Care Department at the Hamad Medical Corporation [HMC], said.

“In the past two weeks alone, we have seen an 82% increase in the number of people infected with the virus in intensive care units,” he said.

Al-Mohammed added that 40% of the cases in intensive care during the current wave are under the age of 50.

“Qatar, like more than 70 countries around the world and in the region, is now seeing many cases of the new variant from the UK,” MoPH said on their social media accounts yesterday. 

This new UK variant does not cause different symptoms but is much more transmissible and can therefore increase the rate of spread of the virus throughout the community.

The health officials also warned of the South African variant, which has been recorded among travellers entering the country. This variant is more likely to spread among community members, they warned.

Qatar has also witnessed an increase in Covid-19 fatalities since the start of the year.

Two deaths on Saturday, aged 74 and 90, has caused the number of fatalities to hit 284 – an almost 15% increase since the start of 2021. In the last two weeks alone, 18 people have lost their lives to Covid-19, a spike that might be attributed to the new, harsher variants spreading in Qatar. 

The concerning statistics led authorities to trigger the third stage of a new four-phase plan to contain the spread of the virus.

With Ramadan around the corner, Dr. Abdullatif Al Khal, Chair of the National Health Strategic Group on COVID-19 and Head of Infectious Diseases at Hamad Medical Corporation [HMC] said there is a concern over a possible increase in cases, as was the case during the holy Muslim fasting month last year.

“We aim to contain the spread earlier in order to allow everyone to celebrate Eid Al Fitr,” he said.

However, to quell concerns, the ministry said that both vaccinations available in Qatar—Moderna and Pfizer—have shown efficiency in preventing severe symptoms that come with the UK variant.

Read also: UK strain triggers second Covid-19 wave in Qatar: official

Earlier this month, HMC has called on those who recovered from Covid-19 to donate plasma in order to treat hospitalised patients. 

So far, the health organisation said it has treated 1,883 Covid-19 patients with convalescent plasma in Qatar.

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