Two weeks after the Arab Cup wrapped up, Qatar is now witnessing a noticeable increase in Covid-19 cases, are the two linked?
In recent weeks, Qatar has been demonstrating its readiness to host global sports tournaments like no other nation, from its inaugural F1 race to FIFA’s first of its kind Arab Cup— Doha has earned its title as the region’s premier ‘sports hub.’
But such a title seems to have come with a price. This week, and ever since the grand sports and cultural celebrations came to an end, the number of daily reported Covid-19 cases has been on the rise.
Recent statistics from the ministry of health reported 296 new cases on Sunday— the highest since August of this year. If compared to the same time last month, that’s an 80 percent increase.
The Gulf nation has also recently confirmed the presence of the ‘worrying and fast transmissible’ Omicron variant in the country, raising several eyebrows on the impact of easing restrictions ‘too soon’ for global tournaments.
In the past year alone, Qatar hosted more than ten tournaments, including 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 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.
“Recently most of the infected people are unvaccinated including adults and children and those completed six months after taking second dose of Covid-19 vaccine,” Head of Vaccination at Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), Dr. Soha Al Bayat said on Qatar TV.
“When we said that a person is allowed to not wear a face mask in open places, there was a condition – like these places should not be crowded. When people started neglecting wearing face masks, we observed an increase in the cases of Covid-19, seasonal flue and asthma,” she added.
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.
To date, 232,016 doses of Covid-19 booster vaccines have been administered and the number has continued to increase.