Three months into the Covid-19 outbreak, Qatar has succeeded in flattening the curve and reducing the impact of the virus by 75% thanks to the preventive efforts and measures as well as the awareness and co-operation of the community.
This was highlighted by Dr Abdullatif al-Khal, chair of the National Strategic Group on Covid-19 and head of the Infectious Diseases Division at Hamad Medical Corporation, during a televised interview on Thursday.
Latest data on new cases and hospital admissions show a levelling-off, and the coming week or two will confirm if this will continue to be the trend, he said.
“We are seeing an increase in the number of deaths but Qatar continues to have one of the lowest Covid-19 death rates in the world thanks to the measures put in place: effective preventive measures to protect the elderly and those with chronic conditions, early detection, early administration of treatment, excellent care, sufficient acute and ICU beds and redirecting of resources,” Dr al-Khal said.
He said the infection rate has stabilised among the expatriate workforce and reached its peak, and is expected to drop. However, expatriate and Qatari families have to be more careful as 90% of them have not been infected. They have to be extra careful, especially the elderly and those with chronic diseases.
Meanwhile, everybody is vulnerable and can get infected, as the virus is still active and the preventive and precautionary measures have to be taken seriously and followed strictly, he noted.
Nobody can be blamed for the spread of the virus and being infected is not a cause for stigma, he said. Yet, family visits and taking the preventive measures lightly can lead to more infections and some of the cases can be severe.
Ensuring that people with Covid-19 are treated early is important to prevent their conditions from worsening, he said. “For this reason, it is important that people with symptoms present early for testing.”
“As we move towards a new normal where we have to live with the virus, it is very important that people continue to follow preventive measures,” he stressed. “Resuming business and other activities should be done gradually and in a prudent manner, with strict observation of social distancing, wearing masks and maintaining hand hygiene to avoid a resurgence of the virus.”
Following lifting of the restrictions, it is important for people not to leave their houses unless it is absolutely necessary. This is particularly true for those who are 60 years and older and those with chronic conditions, he added.
The Ehteraz app will help with the gradual lifting of restrictions as it adds another layer of protection for the community as a whole, Dr al-Khal stressed. It is a good example of how technology is proving to be valuable in combating the virus and facilitating a return towards normal life.