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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Rapid testing kits to be introduced at all Qatar schools 


Rapid testing kits will soon become the new norm in schools to provide a faster, more convenient and accurate method of testing than the regular PCR test.

Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is set to provide rapid testing kits to all schools across Qatar in a bid to increase the speed of Covid-19 examinations for teachers that have yet to be vaccinated.

The Primary Healthcare Corporation (PHCC) and the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at HMC have already come together to train school nurses on how to use the latest testing kit to ensure unvaccinated teachers are protected from the virus.

The move comes just weeks after authorities imposed stricter restrictions for school employees, though this was met with concerns.

The measures stipulate no school employees will be allowed to enter school premises without showing the golden vaccination stamp on Ehteraz or providing a weekly negative Covid-19 test as of March 21.

Read also: School attendance lowered to 30% amid surge in cases

However, it also says employees who refrain from taking the vaccination for “unacceptable reasons” and later test positive or come into contact with a confirmed case will not be paid their salary for the entirety of the quarantine period.

Enas Al Kuwari, Chair of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at HMC, said hospitals have already started using the manual rapid antigen testing for Covid-19 with symptomatic cases.

This includes emergency units at Hamad General Hospital, women’s hospital, Al Khor hospital, Al Wakra hospital, as well the children’s hospital.

Accuracy and speed are among the benefits of the rapid test, the health official said, noting it relies on taking a sample from the nose and provides a result after just 10 to 15 minutes. 

According to Al Kuwari, the test kit can reach 97% accuracy in detecting early infections. This method is used with people that have experienced infection symptoms such as fever, coughing, or other indicators.

In comparison to the PCR test, the rapid test method is considered more convenient as it only requires a sample from the nose instead of a nasopharyngeal swab.

“Positive cases based on the rapid test will then do a PCR test, given the latter will remain the gold standard for diagnosing Covid-19 infections,” QNA reported.

Last week, Qatar announced a resumption of stricter restrictions to curb the spread of the virus after cases surged in the country. 

Read also: Second vaccination drive-thru opens to accelerate inoculation drive

On Saturday, authorities reported 639 new Covid-19 cases, the highest number since July 5th, bringing the number of current active cases to 14,580. 

Two patients lost their lives to Covid-19 in just one day, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said on Saturday.

However, the government is stepping up efforts to fight the Covid-19 second wave.

On Saturday, authorities confirmed a new Covid-19 drive-through vaccination centre opened in Al Wakra to accelerate the vaccination drive in the country. 

Meanwhile, the Minister of Public Health Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari confirmed that more than 130,000 vaccine doses are being administered per week in more than 35 vaccination sites across Qatar. 

“The opening of a second drive-through centre in Al Wakra will enable us to continue to expand the vaccination programme and support our efforts to protect Qatar’s population from the threat of Covid-19,” she added.

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