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Friday, October 22, 2021

UK opens up for travel as 80% of Qatar’s population receive two doses

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Fancy a cup of warm hot chocolate in London without harsh quarantine for a week? Well, now you’re just one ticket away. 

Fully vaccinated travellers from Qatar will now be allowed to enter England with no quarantine requirements as of 4 October, British authorities have announced.

“Great news – England will recognise Qatar-administered vaccines starting from 4 October. This means that most travellers from Qatar will no longer need to quarantine on arrival in England,” said Jon Wilks, British Ambassador to Qatar, in a tweet.

The welcome move is the latest step towards easing travel restrictions and simplifying the process for those wishing to visit the country. As part of the updates, England has also changed its red, amber, green country list to a single list of countries.

The UK Government travel guidance stated that starting 4 October, those who have both doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna or Janssen vaccines from certain countries, including Qatar, at least 14 days prior to departure can now enter England without quarantine.

However, travellers must complete a passenger locator form 48 hours before landing in England and book and pay for a Covid-19 test to be taken on the second day of arrival to ensure they are virus-free.

This means that those who have been fully vaccinated in Qatar are now exempt from taking a pre-departure test, a Covid-19 test on the eight day after arrival, as well as a 10-day home quarantine.

The long-awaited news comes as health authorities in Qatar announce that over 80% of the country’s total population have received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, marking a significant milestone in the country’s rapidly expanding immunisation campaign.

So far, over 4,653,00 Covid-19 shots have been administered in Qatar since the start of the National Covid-19 Vaccination Programme in December, updated statistics have shown, with 5,605 doses given in the past 24 hours alone.

In addition, the number of daily Covid-19 cases have also been drastically decreasing in the last week. On Saturday, the ministry reported a total 82 new confirmed cases, 52 of which detected among the community while the remaining 30 came from travellers.

Read also: Vaccinated individuals ’29 times less likely’ to need hospitalisation: health official

This marks the first time since 11 July that cases have dropped below 100 in the country, when 86 cases were recorded.

“In recent weeks, the combined impact of Covid-19 restrictions and increasing vaccination rates, and the overwhelming support of the community, has resulted in a consistent reduction in the number of new daily infections in the country,” the health ministry said in a statement.

“However, it is still important to be cautious as the second wave is not yet over and there are still two highly contagious and highly virulent strains of the virus that are actively circulating in the community.”

Last week, Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) began administering Covid-19 vaccine booster shots for high-risk individuals. This will be rolled out to the rest of the public in due course.

All immunodeficient high-risk individuals who have taken their second dose of the vaccine over eight months ago will now be eligible to receive the third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Covid-19 vaccine.

In late August, the MoPH approved the use of a third dose of Covid-19 vaccines for those with immunodeficiency diseases, noting these individuals may not get the level of immunity from a two-dose vaccine series compared to people who are not immunocompromised.

The immune response of vulnerable individuals to the initial vaccine shots could have weakened over time, it said.

The first phase of the booster programme will focus on specific groups, including those over 65 years of age and vulnerable people with chronic conditions that increase their risk of a severe Covid-19 infection, as well as frontline healthcare workers and other sectors.

The move comes after recent clinical evidence revealed, for most people, the protective immunity obtained from their primary two vaccine doses gradually starts to decline after an eight month period.

The approval of the booster doses marks the start of a new phase of Qatar’s National Covid-19 Vaccination Program.

All individuals eligible for the booster dose will be contacted by Primary Health Care Corporation to set an appointment. People who have already surpassed eight months since their second dose and have not been contacted by PHCC can call 4027 7077 to make an appointment.


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