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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

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


So far Qatar has not recorded any cases linked to the Delta variant.

New Covid-19 variants are much more severe and contagious, Qatar’s senior health official Dr. Abdullatif Al Khal warned on Sunday, urging the public to get vaccinated and abide by safety measures.

“I would ask these people to think about the way in which the virus has negatively affected all our lives for almost a year and a half and ask them to understand that the vaccines provide a route out of this pandemic,” said Dr Al Khal, Chair of the National Health Strategic Group on Covid-19 and Head of Infectious Diseases at Hamad Medical Corporation [HMC].

The senior health official also noted there has been an “overwhelming” public response to the country’s vaccination programme, however, a large number of individuals eligible to receive the vaccination have yet to do so.

As of Sunday, 85.6% of the eligible population received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, with a total of 3,804,298 jabs administered by the MOPH since the beginning of the vaccine campaign, which started in late December last year.

Dr. Hamad Al Romaihi, Co-chairperson of the National Pandemic Preparedness Committee and Director of Health Protection and Communicable Diseases at the the health minisry said people in Qatar need to put more effort in ensuring the entirety of the population are protected from future spikes in daily cases and variants.

“Thanks to the support of the community the vaccination campaign has been a great success to date, but we need one more push to ensure Qatar’s population is protected from any future rise in cases or new variants,” said Dr. Al Romaihi.

Dr. Muna Al Maslamani, Medical Director of HMC’s Communicable Disease Center also said that clinical evidence in Qatar shows vaccines have been highly effective in preventing hospital admissions, with fewer people being hospitalised.

“Almost all patients admitted to hospital are either not vaccinated or have only had one dose. If you are not yet vaccinated, please play your part in beating Covid-19, helping us return towards normal life as soon as possible, and making Qatar a safer place to live for you and your family,” said Dr. Al Maslamani.

Qatar witnessed a second wave of the coronavirus between March and April, forcing authorities to take strict measures to contain the spread of the virus among the local community.

Qatar to gradually lift Covid-19 restrictions from May 28th

During the spike in cases this year, authorities recorded a significantly high hospital admissions and death rate, even despite maintaining the world’s lowest Covid mortality rate.

The hike in cases at the time was attributed to the community’s negligence as well as the emergence of the UK and South African variants.

However, since then, a more severe Delta variant has been spotted in other countries worldwide.

The Delta variant has become the prominent strain in cases across the world, causing 80% of the new cases among people in the US.

“Covid-19 cases have increased over 300% nationally from June 19 to July 23, 2021, along with parallel increases in hospitalisations and deaths driven by the highly transmissible B.1.617.2 [Delta] variant,” said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a Health Alert Network advisory this week.

As of now, the Delta variant has not been recorded in Qatar, where authorities have introduced a phased-lifting of restrictions that started on 28 May.

Last week, after a slight increase in cases post Eid celebrations, the health ministry announced it would extend the third phase throughout the entirety of August.

Authorities said they will continue to “monitor key performance indicators to ensure a balance between the continuity of providing protection to the population on the one hand and restoring social and economic life to normal, on the other hand,” according to a statement released on Thursday.

On Sunday, Qatar recorded 151 new cases, raising the total number of active cases to 1,940. The MOPH also recorded 117 recoveries on the same day, bumping the total of recoveries to 223, 849.

The current death toll currently stands at 601.

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