Qatar is set to be among the first countries to achieve herd immunity against Covid-19 in a months time, Dr. Mohammed bin Hamad Al Thani, Director of Public Health at the Ministry of Public Health announced.
The health official also revealed that thanks to the country’s rapid vaccination drive and the public’s adherence to precautionary measures, the country is expected to open its doors to tourism “very soon.”
“We will be among the first countries to get the herd immunity in one month from now assuring that we can open in the coming months very soon for tourism. We will prefer vaccinated people in the first stage and then we can evaluate every case. The system is more sustainable for that,” he added during a virtual conference hosted by Doha Bank, titled ‘Qatar Economic Development and Opportunities.’
Qatar has seen a huge dip in Covid-19 numbers since the implementation of new restrictions in late April. In the last few days, the country has been reporting less than 200 daily cases— an 87 percent decrease since the peak of the second wave in April.
On Wednesday, the country reported 158 new cases and 224 recoveries, bringing the total number of active cases down to 2442.
The recent drop in numbers can be attributed to the availability of more vaccines as well as the opening of more vaccination centres, which allowed the country to exponentially ramp up its national inoculation campaign.
The implementation of strict restrictions to curb the virus has also played an essential role in flattening the curve, which is expected to further decrease in the upcoming days.
The health official added that Qatar can now move towards the lifting of the second phase of restrictions, which is expected to start on June 18.
“The numbers are assuring us we can move to phase 2. The decision will be taken very soon by the government for phase 2 and this will help people to grow in the economy and can go forward in their normal practice,” Dr. Mohammed said, urging all those who are eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Half population fully vaccination
So far, over half of the population— aged 16 and above — have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in Qatar, recent statistics from the health ministry confirmed.
According to the figures, 50.4% of those 16 and over have received two doses while 67.1% have received one.
The percentage of people over 40 years of age to receive one dose stands at 86.2% with 73.5% completing the course.
Meanwhile, 93.8% of those aged 60 and above received the first dose with 86.6% of this age group now fully vaccinated.
Since the start of the country’s National Vaccination Campaign, over 2,729,437 vaccine doses have been administered. The country has been expanding its vaccination campaign in recent months to ensure the community’s safety— administrating over 10 thousand doses daily.
Second wave coming to an end
Qatar’s daily reported Covid-19 cases have been drastically decreasing in recent weeks, with health officials assuring that the country is on the verge of ending its second wave.
In early May, Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health [MoPH] and Ministry of Commerce & Industry introduced a four-phase plan for the gradual lifting of restrictions following a significant drop in daily Covid-19 infections among the community.
The new regulations include allowing five vaccinated individuals to gather indoors, 10 to gather outdoors, and the opening of salons and barbers at a 30% capacity only for vaccinated staff and customers.
Non-vaccinated individuals will be able to enjoy the same privileges as those that have received the full dosage of the injection once the country reaches its target, Head of Vaccination at the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), Dr. Soha Al Bayat said on Qatar TV.
“We do not force anyone to take Covid-19 vaccine and by the time we reach the targeted percentage of vaccinated people, those who are non-vaccinated will enjoy the same privileges of in the gradual lifting of Covid-19 restrictions,” Al Bayat said.
“Non-vaccinated people will be able to avail the privileges later compared to those who are vaccinated. The number of people who are really exempted from taking Covid-19 vaccine are very small. We encourage the remaining people to take the vaccine to enjoy the privileges available at present.”
Phase two of the lifting of restrictions is expected on June 18.