Dr. Abdul Latif Al-Khal, head of the National Strategic Group for Responding to COVID-19 and Head of the Infectious Diseases Department at Hamad Medical Corporation, announced that so far, more than 380,000 doses of the (Covid-19) vaccine have been given to community members since the start of the national program of vaccination against the virus.
Al-Khal said, in a press conference for the Ministry of Public Health held this evening, that nearly 12 percent of the population of 16 years and over in the State of Qatar have received at least one dose of vaccination so far.
He pointed out that the decision to focus on the groups most vulnerable to health complications related to (Covid-19) during the early stages of the national vaccination program contributed to protecting a large proportion of this group and very quickly from disease, and also contributed to the provision of moderna vaccines in addition to the Pfizer vaccines available from Ahead in the acceleration of the national vaccination program.
He stressed that due to the availability of more vaccines and the opening of additional vaccination centers, including the vaccination center at the Qatar National Convention Center and the In-Car Vaccination Center in Lusail, the Ministry of Public Health was able to expand the scope of the vaccination program by including more segments of the population within the groups that meet the requirements for access. On vaccination, knowing that those aged 50 years and over can currently receive the vaccine.
He explained that, although there is some scientific evidence that shows the ability of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to provide a good level of protection after receiving only one dose of the vaccine, we recommend that you take two doses to ensure maximum protection.
Dr. Al-Khal revealed that more than half of the elderly population in the State of Qatar has received at least one dose of the vaccine so far, calling on the elderly and groups most at risk of this disease who have not yet been vaccinated to initiate vaccination.
And Dr. Al-Khal stated that despite the rapid pace of the vaccination program, it is still too early for all groups of society to receive the vaccine, and that until that time it is important for everyone to continue to follow measures to prevent infection with the virus.
With regard to vaccinating health workers and frontline workers in other departments and institutions, Dr. Al-Khal explained that the Ministry of Public Health has given priority to health workers to take the vaccine against (Covid-19), due to the important role assigned to them in providing treatment to patients and ensuring the functioning of health care.
He indicated that so far, more than 70 percent of health workers at HMC and more than 67 percent of health workers have been vaccinated with primary health care.
He revealed that the Ministry of Public Health will provide the vaccine for health workers in hospitals and private clinics, starting next week, and they will be contacted and given appointments to take the vaccine.
He also announced that the Ministry of Public Health has given priority to vaccinating teachers, as the percentage of teachers and administrators working in public and private schools has exceeded 45 percent so far.
He explained that the vaccination had begun to be given to frontline workers in many ministries and state institutions, and the registration of imams, muezzins and mosque workers had also been initiated in order to receive the vaccine.
He pointed out that the rapid progress of the national vaccination program against (Covid-19) in the State of Qatar means that there is a possibility of a gradual return to normalcy and in all parts of the world, but this will not happen in the next few weeks or months, and it will require continued efforts to address the epidemic.
Dr. Al-Khal explained that the Corona virus will continue to be a source of danger until the end of this year, and in order for all individuals to be vaccinated, we must continue to follow preventive measures, as they give additional protection from infection.
With regard to the update in the policy of exempting from quarantine for those who have taken the vaccine returning from travel, Dr. Al-Khal indicated that the Ministry of Public Health had announced a change in its policy of exempting from quarantine for people who were fully vaccinated after their return from travel.
He added that the change included extending the validity of the quarantine exemption period from three to six months, the period starting 14 days after a person received the second dose of the vaccine.
He explained that this was done after reviewing the latest scientific evidence about the effectiveness of anti-virus vaccines (Covid-19), which indicates that the effectiveness of the vaccine lasts for more than 6 months, and the Ministry of Health will review this policy when new scientific evidence becomes available about the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Dr. Al-Khal stressed that developing safe and effective vaccines enables people who have been vaccinated safely to travel and move around more freely, but it is still important for people who have been vaccinated to follow preventive measures when visiting other countries.
With regard to taking the vaccine during pregnancy, Dr. Al-Khal explained that there is no indication that vaccination is not safe during pregnancy, whether for the mother or the fetus, and it is known that infection with the virus during pregnancy may lead to severe complications.
He pointed out that some international bodies recommend that a pregnant woman get the vaccine if she has a chronic disease that may increase the severity of her illness if she is infected with the Coronavirus or if she works in a field that exposes her to more infection with the virus, explaining that for lactating women or women who intend to become pregnant, it is not Do not get vaccinated.
On the other hand, Dr. Al-Khal warned that cases with severe infection with the virus (Covid-19) that require hospitalization have increased significantly, and the infection rate has become 3 times more than it was last January, and the number of critical cases that need to enter care The focus, which reflects the number of critical cases, which is more than three times that of last January.
Dr. Al-Khal pointed out that since the application of restrictions last February, all authorities have succeeded in slowing down infection rates, but despite success in curbing the rate of injuries, the number of daily injuries is still large, and then the number of people who needed hospitalization increased. It also requires the entry of cases to the intensive units to receive special care.
He warned that the (Covid-19) virus still poses a threat to the health of the population in the State of Qatar, which requires commitment to apply precautionary measures such as physical distancing, the use of protective face masks and washing hands, taking care to obtain the vaccine in the event that the person’s role comes to eligibility for it. .
Speaking about the new strains of the virus, Dr.Abdul Latif Al-Khal explained that the emergence of new strains in recent months posed greater challenges as a new mutated strain known as the United Kingdom strain and the South African strain spread that affected the world, including the Middle East region.
He stressed that the quarantine policy for travelers returning from abroad enabled delaying the arrival of the strains to Qatar for several months, but he explained that countries in the region, including the State of Qatar, are now witnessing cases of infection of the new strain from those coming from the United Kingdom, as this strain is more contagious and faster to spread and it is possible that It contributes to increasing the rate of spread of the virus, and thus increasing the number of cases that require hospitalization.
Dr. Al-Khal stressed that the Pfizer and Modena vaccines are effective against the new strain, through studies conducted by the manufacturers, calling at the same time to adhere to preventive measures on an ongoing basis.
On the other hand, Dr. Al-Khal confirmed that it has not been proven until now that schools contribute to the spread of infection in society with the Coronavirus.
He stressed that with the start of public schools after the exams holiday this week, it is very important that parents and students continue to follow preventive measures throughout the holiday period to prevent the high number of injuries among students before returning to study within a few days.
He explained that although children do not have severe complications due to the Corona virus, they can transmit the infection to their families, knowing that most infections among children occur in the community due to social gatherings, and therefore parents and mothers must make sure that their children do not mix with their friends or individuals. Their extended families during the vacation, otherwise it will further increase the rate of spread of the virus in the community.
He pointed out that with the mid-term vacation approaching and the holy month of Ramadan nearing, we must not make these occasions a cause of the spread of the virus in society, explaining that the Ministry of Public Health will continue monitoring epidemiological indicators and if it sees any noticeable increase in the number of cases during days and weeks. Next it is likely to impose more restrictions.
He pointed out that it is more important than ever to be vigilant and do our duty as individuals to address this virus, especially in light of the spread of new strains of the virus.
In response to a question about when to reach a satisfactory vaccination rate against (Covid-19) among community members, Dr. Al-Khal said that the national plan for vaccination against Corona, which was developed by the Ministry of Health, extends over the course of 2021, but there are intensive efforts by the Ministry of Health to accelerate the pace. Implementing the national plan by providing the largest possible amount of vaccines at the earliest possible opportunity, which will allow the Ministry to increase the number of vaccination doses given on a daily basis, explaining that if the quantities are available faster than expected, it is hoped that by the summer a large proportion of the population will get On the vaccine.
In response to a question about the continuation of the vaccination campaign during the month of Ramadan and the possibility of getting vaccinated during fasting, Dr. Al-Khal expressed his hope that everyone would be keen to get the vaccine even before Ramadan if they are among the currently eligible groups for the vaccine, pointing out that the period of Ramadan must be used to accelerate the pace Vaccinations because this will help cover a larger proportion of the population.
He explained that the vaccinations during fasting do not break the fast of the recipient of the vaccine in general, because the vaccination is not given intravenously, but rather in the muscles, and therefore no one should hesitate during fasting to obtain the vaccination.
Regarding the indications and indicators that may lead to the imposition of more measures and restrictions, Dr. Al-Khal explained that the Ministry of Health is following up a number of important indicators that indicate the activity of the virus and its spread in society, the most important of which are hospital admissions and intensive care admissions, which constitute a burden on the health sector in addition to Indicators of the percentage of positive daily examinations, and the virus proliferation index, or what is known as the virus reproduction factor, RT.
He explained that these are the most important indicators, and if it continues to increase more than it is, then this means that we were not able to flatten the curve, but if it began to decrease, this means that the efforts, measures and restrictions imposed now have succeeded in flattening the curve.
He added that if these indicators continue to increase steadily, this may prompt the Ministry of Public Health to recommend imposing more restrictions in order to limit the spread of the virus, explaining that if new restrictions are imposed, it will be for a limited period of two to four weeks, and then it will be reviewed once. In the event that it is proven to have had an effect and the epidemic begins to recede, restrictions will be gradually lifted.
In turn, Dr. Ahmed Al-Muhammad, Head of Intensive Care at HMC, explained that the increase in the number of (Covid-19) virus infections was reflected in the last two months on the number of cases that required hospitalization and treatment, as in January, fewer than 40 cases were received per day from those They require hospitalization, while currently 80 to 100 cases are received daily.
He added that on the other hand, an increase in the number of intensive care cases was observed, as it increased to 120 cases in all intensive care departments in all Hamad Medical Hospitals, which prompted us to prepare at the hospital level to increase the number of beds receiving intensive care cases, so the number of beds in care was increased. They are concentrated in Hazm Meberek and the Cuban Hospital, and there are places provided for the care of moderate or intensive cases.
He pointed out that the precautionary plan is available at the current stage, and we are prepared for any cases. At the level of health care, a number of hospitals have been allocated, the most important of which are Hazm Mebirek Hospital, the Communicable Diseases Center, Mesaieed Hospital, Ras Laffan and the Cuban Hospital.
Dr. Ahmed Al-Muhammad, Head of Intensive Care at Hamad Medical Corporation, said that the capacity of these hospitals now, with the increase in cases, reaches from 60 to 70 percent at the level of regular health care and about 60 to 70 percent at the level of intensive care.
He stressed that it is good now that anyone who needs treatment from patients will find that, whether regular treatment or treatment in intensive care, which is something that is being worked on continuously in conjunction with work and preparation to receive cases regardless of their numbers, stressing that with the plans set, the situation Currently under control.
Dr. Al-Muhammad emphasized that the Coronavirus pandemic still exists at the community level and cases are escalating as is known, but it is important for community members to realize that the earlier they seek health care, this contributes to better treatment results.
He called on all individuals that once they feel symptoms such as high body temperature, the sense of smell and taste, shortness of breath or unusual coughing, they should go for a corona examination immediately through the advertised health centers or call 16000 to obtain the necessary support and guidance. .
He pointed out that it has been noticed recently during this pandemic, that the development of infection in a patient with Coronavirus is faster than it was in the past, and it may take a longer period of treatment for the injured in the hospital than before, and this is due to the mutation of the virus itself.
He pointed out that with regard to follow-up of patients, it has recently appeared that those who contract the disease have symptoms more severe than what happened in the first wave of the epidemic, as patients stay longer in the hospital than they were in the past, as well as in intensive care, although the treatment that is currently provided is no less. For the treatment that was previously provided.
He explained that the viral mutation has an effect on the ability of the virus to infect the body more severely, pointing out that it is also noticed that during the current period, and by following up on patients who were previously infected, there is a return of some worrying symptoms for those patients who think that they have recovered from the disease but symptoms appear What is called post-covid syndrome, especially with people with chronic diseases or weak immunity or the elderly over 60 years, where they show severe coughing, difficult to treat, feeling short of breath, general fatigue, a sense of fatigue and the inability to concentrate, which are symptoms that appear on people who have recovered from the disease and this There is a need to strive more at the level of prevention, pointing out that with the availability of the vaccine, there is no excuse to avoid getting vaccinated.