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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Qatar’s cabinet announces new restrictions as COVID numbers continue to rise


Amid global concerns over the highly contagious Omicron variant, numbers show that Qatar is on the verge of another COVID wave.

Qatar’s cabinet announced new restrictions effective from Friday December 31 as the country witnesses a dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases.

The Council of Ministers held a meeting on Wednesday at the Amiri Diwan, chaired by Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani.

Among the main discussions during the meeting was the noticeable increase in infections across the country amid concerns over the spread of the new and more contagious Covid-19 variant and public negligence.  

As per the new regulations, all people will be required to wear masks indoors and outdoors except those exercising in the open air or with specific medical conditions. 

Conferences, exhibitions and events are still allowed to take place in Qatar provided that the capacity does not exceed 75% in open spaces and 50% in closed places with 90% of the attendees fully vaccinated. Those who did not receive the full course of the Covid-19 vaccine are required to show a negative PCR or RAT test result in order to be admitted.

A prior approval is required from the Ministry of Public Health to hold any public event, the cabinet noted. 

Authorities urged the public to adhere to requirements and preventive measures set by the health ministry.

“The Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Public Health, and other government agencies – each within its jurisdiction – shall take the necessary measures in this regard, to ensure compliance with the health requirements and prescribed precautionary measures and measures,” the council said. 

Read also: Spike in Covid-19 cases: Public negligence or large scale events?

This week, and ever since Qatar’s major sports and cultural events came to an end, the number of daily reported Covid-19 cases has been on the rise.

On Wednesday, MoPH reported 443 new cases — the highest since August of this year.

In the past year alone, Qatar hosted more than ten tournaments, including the FIFA Arab Cup, GCC aquatic championships, Formula 1, and ATP Qatar tennis tournament. The tournaments attracted thousands of visitors to Qatar, leading to full-capacity stadiums and little to no social distancing.

The country has also organised several social events throughout the past two months, including the International Food Festival, Air-Balloon Festival, live concerts, and National Day celebrations.

However, health officials in Qatar said earlier this month that the increase in infection rate in Qatar is due to the ‘negligence by people’ who have let go of Covid-19 measures set by authorities.

Authorities have also called on those who can take the third dose as soon as possible to avoid a possible outbreak and the reimposing of tighter restrictions.

In efforts to control the crisis, health officials announced that people living in Qatar can receive the booster shot at their designated healthcare center without a prior appointment.

To date, 254,963 doses of Covid-19 booster vaccines have been administered and the number has continued to increase.

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