There is a need for more social distancing in order to achieve greater control over the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) in Qatar, a top official and healthcare expert has said.
“Qatar has achieved considerable success against Covid-19, ever since social distancing measures were implemented on March 29,” Dr Abdullatif al-Khal told a press conference telecast on Qatar Television on Thursday evening.
Dr al-Khal is the chair of the National Strategic Group of Covid-19, co-chair of the National Pandemic Preparedness Committee at the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and head of the Infectious Diseases at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).
“The preventive and precautionary measures adopted by Qatar, including social distancing and the closure of schools and commercial complexes and other measures such as preventing gatherings in public places, have substantially reduced new cases,” he pointed out.
Dr al-Khal reiterated the need to adhere more to the cause of social distancing and not leave the house except for unavoidable requirements and regularly wash hands and wear face masks.
“The vulnerable category, especially those above 55 and suffering from chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and other diseases affecting immunity, should be very careful,” he advised.
With regard to the peak stage of Covid-19 outbreak in Qatar, Dr al-Khal explained that the number of infections increased due to the rapid transmission of the virus from one person to another in addition to the fact that once the spread of the virus reached a certain percentage in society, new cases will start to increase, entering the peak stage.
“It is expected that the number of daily infections will be close to a thousand and this rate will continue and may increase or stabilise during the coming days and weeks,” the official said.
Dr al-Khal explained that after exceeding the peak, the numbers will begin to decrease gradually and it is difficult to predict this accurately, but there may be a second peak, a third peak and the whole matter depends on the extent of applying precautionary measures to limit the spread of the virus.
“The end of the peak does not mean the disappearance of the virus and that life returns to the way it was before, but if the measures are neglected, there will be a second peak, and thus returning to the starting point,” he added.
Dr al-Khal emphasised that the active and effective tracking carried out by the MoPH contributed to the detection of cases that would not have been
discovered otherwise.
“Therefore the Ministry of Public Health has increased the number of teams for tracking contacts, as early examination before symptoms contributed to an increase in cases as well as the ability of the central laboratory to conduct more tests,” he said. There is a plan to increase the
capacity of the laboratory.
Referring to the high number of people recovering from Covid-19 in Qatar, Dr al-Khal said only about 1% of those infected with the virus need intensive care, and this number is only between five to 10 of the newly diagnosed cases daily, with less than half of them needing ventilator support. The recovery rate for cases in intensive care is also very encouraging.
More Covid-19 patients are recovering on a daily basis, and most of the recovered are from the 25 to 44 years age group, which also constitutes the majority of those infected –
expatriate workers.
While 36% of those infected are from the 25-34 years category, patients in the 35-44 years segment constitute 29%, totaling as much as 75% of the Covid-19 cases in Qatar, Dr al-Khal added. (QNA)