Amid ongoing chaos at overcrowding at public health centres across the country, health officials have issued new restrictions on who can now get tested in Qatar.
After what many have dubbed as a “PCR crisis” in Qatar, Doha News has learned that officials at Hamad Medical Cooperation [HMC] have now issued new guidelines on who should get tested at HMC’s hospitals and clinics.
According leaked HMC document, anyone under the age of 50 who has received either a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccination, or a second shot within the last 4 months is not required to take a PCR, even if they have come into close contact with someone infected with the virus.
Those who have taken their second shot or booster more than 4 months ago, are aged above 50, or suffer from a chronic health condition and have come into close contact with a positive case will be allowed to take a Covid-19 test.
It is unclear, according to the memo, whether those with symptoms will be allowed to test or if they will be sent back home to prevent “over-crowding” at test centres.
However, returning travelers and visitors are still obliged to test as stated by the country’s travel regulations.
Qatar’s PCR Crisis
Following a spike in COVID-19 cases in Qatar over the past week, the country is witnessing a significant delay in PCR tests and results. According to some social media users, making an appointment now in any medical center or hospital could take up to several days which has led to many people canceling their flights or just not being able to check if they have been infected by the virus.
Social media users have expressed their distress and anger over the queues formed in front of hospital, where those lining up are not abiding by social distancing measures.
Many people have been asking online why and how such a crisis could take place given the fact that Covid has been around for two years, giving health officials plenty of time to ensure the infrastructure was in place to deal with a sudden increase in numbers.
Criticism of the Health Ministry’s insistence to rely solely on Hamad Medical Corporation’s labs to examine all of Qatar’s COVID swabs has become a central part of the online debate. While people can get a PCR test done at almost any hospital or clinic in Qatar, all of them are sent to an HMC facility making backlogs during high-numbers inevitable.