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Wednesday, April 17, 2024 | Daily Newspaper published by GPPC Doha, Qatar.
 Shafeeq Alingal
Shafeeq Alingal
Shafeeq Alingal is a Staff Reporter with Gulf Times. He has mainstream media experience of six years. Health, environment and wildlife are among his specialties.
LIVE PORTRAIT: Kareemgraphy after completing a portrait of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani at an event.
Community
Highlighting Qatar’s legacy and culture

Standing by his host nation is an obligation for Abdul Kareem, a calligrapher and graphic designer from the southern Indian state of Kerala. “As an artist, I give vent to my creativity. I try to tap the potential of art to bring people together for the cause of Qatar,” he says. Popularly known as Kareemgraphy, the artist has attended various programmes hosted by different organisations in order to bring the communities together and highlight Qatar’s legacy and culture. These include the sand art show at Sealine Beach last year and the solidarity programme by expatriate cultural collective Bridge Qatar and Qatar National Theatre.  Besides, he drew a calligraphic portrait of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and a calligraphy highlighting the iconic goal by Almoez Ali in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. The two works drew much attention while His Highness the Amir’s portrait went viral, adorning streets, vehicles and buildings during various solidarity programmes and celebrations. “In fact, blockade brought people together in an unprecedented way. And artists discharged their duties while making use of their works to make the nation stay together,” Kareem said.  At Sealine, a pictorial depiction of Qatar’s heritage and architectural landmarks was held last year and Kareem was part of the 12 member team which drew sketches of pearl diving, old boats, forts, old houses, oil refineries, Torch Tower as the mark of 2006 Asian Games, modern architectural designs at West Bay and Lusail, the Doha Metro track, as well as falcon representing the high spirits of Qatar, and the words ‘See you in 2022’ showing the excitement for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.  Kareem wrote ‘Qatar will remain independent’ in the sand. Kareem says he is trying to give back to Qatar which helped him conquer new heights. “I have worked and lived in various countries. But, Qatar helped me to grow and earn fame and I am obliged not to spare any opportunity that helps me express solidarity and strengthen its people and communities,” he added.

Riyaz Ahmed Bakali, Henry Dimaano, P N Baburajan, Janan Bangash, Mohamed Muktda Musalman and Anwar Hossain Akon
Qatar
Eid initiative wins communities' praise

Qatar's 'Let’s Celebrate Eid Together’ initiative has won praise from various communities in the country with their leaders expressing gratitude to ministries and other partners. More than 50,000 Eid food kits were distributed to expatriates under a joint initiative by several ministries and organisations with the involvement of expatriate forums. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Interior (MoI), the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, Qatar Charity and Ooredoo joined hands for the noble gesture. A total of 40 organisations co-ordinated with the MoI, received food kits and distributed them to people in need. “The ‘Let’s Celebrate Eid Together’ stands as a testimonial for Qatar’s keenness towards ensuring the welfare of the expatriate communities, and leaves a strong message of togetherness and care,” the Indian Community Benevolent Forum president P N Baburajan said. Riyaz Ahmed Bakali from Pakistani Community said Qatar is actively engaged in ensuring the welfare of all. “Qatar pays special care to people in need and members of the expatriate communities. We owe our gratitude to Qatar for helping us work here and have a good life. Persons in need are given care very well. We are obliged to give back by supporting the country meet its requirements in various sectors,” he said, adding that volunteers along with community leaders ensured the food kits reached the right people. Filipino community leader Henry Dimaano said initiative benefited thousands of his compatriots in the country. "We received about 5,000 food kits from the Qatar government to be distributed to the community members who had registered through the Eid Food Kit Registration circulated a couple of days ago. A number of Filipino community leaders including the leadership of Filipino Muslim community in Qatar and some private entities volunteered to help us distribute the food kits to qualified beneficiaries,” he said. The kits were distributed to the beneficiaries by making special arrangements, and volunteers along with drivers worked to implement the scheme. The organisations got applications from various parts of the country and beneficiaries received the kits after they were identified. Transportation facilities were arranged and the community members received the kits at their doors. The organisations carried out the activities in co-ordination with the respective embassies. “Since 2008, all communities in Qatar have been in co-ordination with the Public Relations Department of the MoI for our peaceful life in Qatar. We have celebrated several Eids with the ministry and a lot of activities including sports, games, songs and shows were held as part of the celebrations. And this year, we celebrate Eid through this initiative,” said Anwar Hossain Akon, president of the Bangladesh Community - Qatar. Mohamed Muktda Musalman of the Non Resident Nepali Association, praised the MoI for taking up efforts to keep relations between the Qatar government and the communities intact. "The government is showing much interest in ensuring the welfare of all. And the initiative has come as part of its efforts to address the woes of people in need. Such steps tempt us to do more for the community and we are thankful for what the government is doing for us," he said. "Pakistani community's generous members are always on the front line in times of crisis with the government," said Janan Bangash from Pakistani community thanking the organisers for donating Eid gifts for thousands of needy persons. Expatriate organisations from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Gambia, Nigeria, Tunisia, Ghana, and Kenya were involved in the initiative.

Ehteraz records more than 1mn downloads
Qatar
Ehteraz records more than 1mn downloads

The Ehteraz app has recorded more than 1mn downloads on the Google Play Store so far, with people in Qatar complying with the preventive measures put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19. The app has also seen a large number of downloads on the Apple App Store. The Cabinet had recently issued a decision making it mandatory for all citizens and residents to install and activate the Ehteraz app on smartphones when leaving the house for any reason. This decision is effective until further notice. While the app earned the praise of residents for being an effective tool in the fight against Covid-19, some users had complained of technical glitches. In response, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) advised users to keep updating the application. “We are doing enhancements, so always update the application,” the ministry had said. Accordingly, app enhancements have been made on both the Android and iOS platforms. The latest enhancement was done on May 23 for Android and May 24 for iOS, according to information available on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store, respectively. The MoI has also been carrying out an awareness campaign stressing the importance of using the app. Ehteraz is a tool developed to track the contacts of Covid-19 positive cases and helps healthcare officials fight the virus with the help of members of the society. It also displays the latest developments and official statistics related to the outbreak, and shares awareness and precautionary instructions issued by the official authorities. Vodafone and Ooredoo have waived data charges while using Ehteraz in order to ease and promote the app’s usage. Recently, a senior health official also assured Qatar residents that they need not have any privacy concerns about the Ehteraz app, a very important tool to combat the Covid-19 outbreak and safeguard public health.

Screenshot of a virtual gathering organised by some residents on Sunday in Qatar, on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr.
Qatar
Coronavirus curbs fail to dampen Eid festive spirit

*Special prayers at home. virtual meetings mark this year's celebrations The first-ever Eid al-Fitr under strict stay-at-home guidelines on Sunday lent an unprecedented experience to Qatar residents but the precautionary measures against the virus failed to dampen the religious fervour of the faithful. The authorities had repeatedly appealed to everyone to stay home for Eid al-Fitr in order to control the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic in the country. As a result, Qatar residents celebrated the auspicious day by not going out, holding special Eid al-Fitr prayers at homes, and organising virtual meetings on various online platforms. Meanwhile, Eid al-Fitr prayers were held on Sunday exclusively in the presence of 40 worshippers including imams, muezzins and staff at the Imam Muhammad bin Abdul Wahab Mosque, as per the Hanbali doctrine. The prayers were broadcast on TV and radio channels. The Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs (Awqaf) had announced earlier that the decision to close mosques and suspend congressional prayers as part of precautionary and preventive measures against the spread of Covid-19 would also apply to Eid al-Fitr prayers. “The day turned out to be quite usual except I had special food with my family,” said Najeeb Edassery, a resident of Al Murra, reminiscing his experiences of earlier Eid days when he took his family out to various beaches. “I chose to talk to my friends and relatives by making group video calls. And thus, I made virtual visits,” he said. For Suhaib Abdulla, the day started with Eid al-Fitr special prayer at his residence at Al Wakra. “In fact, Eid al-Fitr came as a holiday for me since I was busy volunteering with Qatar Charity at Al Aziziya Al Meera for more than one month,” he said. Unable to go out, Abdulla too had virtual celebrations with his family back home in India. Rather than making it a celebration only involving family and friends, some residents went an extra mile by organising virtual cultural activities over Zoom. A Kerala-based collective organised an exclusive meet during which its members exchanged pleasantries, shared Eid al-Fitr messages and some of them had special Eid songs. Named Pattorma, which literally means Memory of Songs, the meet was attended by around 100 members in Qatar. “The programme received overwhelming response from the members. And we refreshed ourselves and it lent us numerous moments to muse the memories,” said collective functionary Ashraf Hudawi Kattumunda.

Keep Ehteraz updated for optimum benefit: MoI
Qatar
Keep Ehteraz updated for optimum benefit: MoI

* Cabinet decision on mandatory app usage comes into effect from Friday The Ministry of Interior (MoI) has urged users to keep the Ehteraz application up-to-date for optimal utilisation of the service. To complaints of glitches from users, the ministry said: “We are doing enhancement, so always update the application”. Some said they found the application not working properly, while some others said they were not able to download it. Given the Cabinet decision that made installing the application on phones mandatory before leaving the house for any reason from Friday (May 22), several residents said they were worried. One resident said his iPhone kept crashing each time he tried to install the application. This was in addition to the complaints regarding inability to download the application without a valid Qatar ID. Available in iOS and Android versions, Ehteraz is a tool to track the contacts of Covid-19 positive cases. It helps healthcare officials fight the virus with the help of members of the society. It displays the latest developments and official statistics related to the outbreak. The app also shares awareness and precautionary instructions issued by the authorities. Regarding the complaints of battery drain, the MoI said Bluetooth and Location are required for the effective functioning of the app by helping to identify if a user has been in the proximity of someone who has been quarantined or infected. Vodafone and Ooredoo have waived data charges for using Ehteraz in order to ease and promote the usage. The MoI on Thursday reiterated, through its social media accounts, that all citizens and residents must instal and activate the Ehteraz app before stepping out of the house from Friday. The Cabinet decision in this regard is effective until further notice.

Gulf Times
Qatar
Citizens, residents laud Ehteraz app

The Ehteraz application, launched by the Ministry of Interior (MoI) as part of Qatar’s fight against Covid-19, has won praise from the users. Available in iOS and Android versions, the app has to be mandatorily installed by all citizens and residents on their smartphones when leaving the house for any reason from May 22. "Ehteraz is an excellent tool to track the contacts of Covid-19 positive and will definitely help the healthcare officials fight the virus with help of individuals in the society,” said a user who reviewed the app on Google Play. As per latest figures, more than 100,000 smartphone users have so far downloaded the app from Google Play. This is in addition to the downloads from Apple App Store. "Ehteraz is your trusted smart application to follow up on the latest updates of Covid-19 in Qatar. Ehteraz has been designed and developed in the Ministry of Interior to support all categories of the Qatari community to spread health awareness tips and techniques as well as the protection methods that are necessary to halt the outbreak of coronavirus," the description says. Meanwhile, users have come up with suggestions and urged the authorities to improve the functions of the app while introducing more useful features, information and updates. “Battery drain appears to be an issue in the first release. Hopefully, it should be addressed immediately in order to encourage and attract more users,” reviewed another user on Google Play. The MoI has informed that Bluetooth and Location are required for the effective functioning of the app by helping to identify if a user has been in the proximity of someone who got quarantined or infected. The app is being enhanced and urged all residents to keep it updated. Besides helping enhance preventive measures and curb the spread of Covid-19, Ehteraz displays the latest developments and official statistics related to the outbreak. The app also shares awareness and precautionary instructions issued by the official authorities. Meanwhile, Vodafone and Ooredoo have removed data usage charges for Ehteraz. A tweet by Ooredoo said: "Dear customer, we encourage you to download Ehteraz, Qatar's Covid-19 risk detector app, that's connected to the MoPH's database to stay updated on the latest developments related to the virus. Downloading and using the app will be free of charge.” Vodafone, through Twitter, said that all data usage charges for Ehteraz have been removed to guarantee that everyone has access to the latest developments of the virus. “Stay safe and download it now,” a tweet said.

HE the Minister of Public Health Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari
Qatar
Mandatory quarantine 'likely' when flights restart

*Qatar will soon see end of peak of Covid-19 cases, says Dr al-Kuwari *93% cases mild, recovery rate high Qatar is likely to introduce mandatory quarantining once flights resume and the country will soon see the end of the peak of Covid-19 cases, HE the Minister of Public Health Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari said on Thursday. “We will have to keep some measures in place. Countries are now saying that as part of opening up of travel there is going to be mandatory quarantine and that will probably also be the case in Doha,” the Minister told Al Jazeera English. HE Dr Al-Kuwarir said the proliferation rate of the virus has declined. "The general public is fantastic in complying with the directions, following social distancing and wearing face masks. Best practices are followed and the country will soon see the end of the peak.” Reiterating that Qatar is very vigilant, the Minister said priority will be given to public safety and least risk for the general population. “Innovative measures are in place in the health and education sectors to control the pandemic. More online activities are being carried out. Telemedicine is in place and consultations are done virtually,” she said. The Minister explained that the high number of cases in Qatar is the result of intensive testing. “Infection rates are not high. As much as 93% cases are mild while only 1% is in ICU and 5% hospitalised. Qatar has implemented a unique system to fight Covid-19. Recovery rate is high in Qatar and only 12 deaths have been reported. Qatar has the lowest fatality rate like Singapore." “We are active in tracing and finding the cases. Persons coming from other countries and those who contacted them are asked to be quarantined at a government facility or home. Cases with high risk are quarantined at government facilities,” she said, adding Qatar has implemented a legal decree to deal with quarantine violators. "The Covid-19 crisis has resulted in an opportunity for the local industry to produce masks and ventilators. Five hospitals have been dedicated to deal with Covid-19 cases and they are fully equipped and staffed," the Minister said. "Proper care is being taken in the Industrial Area where all needs of the workers are met. The Ehteraz app will help the public to know if they contacted any infected person,” she said. HE Dr al-Kuwari also said Qatar is participating in the clinical trial of Covid-19 vaccine.

The downward trend in the accident numbers was despite the country recording an increase in the number of vehicles
Qatar
Qatar roads witness less number of fatal accidents

The number of accident deaths on Qatar roads is showing a downward trend. The country recorded 154 deaths in 2019 with a decrease of 7.78%, according to data released by the General Directorate of Traffic through its Twitter account. In 2018, a total of 167 deaths were reported while the number of cases stood at 177 and 178 in 2017 and 2016, respectively. In 2019 and 2018, 777 and 685 cases of serious injuries were recorded, respectively, while the number was 742 and 869 in 2017 and 2016, figures said. The achievement was possible despite the country recorded an increase in the number of vehicles. The General Directorate of Traffic officials had earlier explained that 97% of the accidents, recorded in 2019, were minor accidents without injuries while the accidents of severe injuries accounted for 0.3% only. “The accident death rate in Qatar is 4.4 for every 100,000 people, which is less than the global average of 18.2 deaths by 5.8% and also less than the rate recorded in the high-income countries by 47%. "Similarly, the traffic death rate per 100,000 vehicles in Qatar is lower than the global average by 85.5% and the traffic accident severity index in Qatar is lower than the global average by 46.7%. "It also shows a decrease in the traffic death rate per thousand sqm from the global average at a rate of 35%,” officials had told a press conference. Efforts by the traffic safety partners including the Traffic Department, the National Traffic Safety Committee, ambulance service, the Public Works Authority (Ashghal), the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) and other institutions and agencies in Qatar have helped the country bring down the number. The General Directorate of Traffic has launched a campaign to control serious violations aiming at reducing wrong behaviour by drivers and enhancing road safety to save lives and property. The Directorate has been organising this campaign annually during the holy month of Ramadan to control the most common traffic violations, as part of its efforts to achieve the highest levels of road safety and reduce accidents, deaths and severe injuries.

Lekhwiya has been conducting patrols around the country. (Screen grabs from MoI video)
Qatar
Lekhwiya patrols help curb Covid-19 spread in Qatar

The Internal Security Force (Lekhwiya) is taking part in the ongoing efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19 by implementing a slew of measures across the country. The efforts of Lekhwiya have been highlighted by a video tweeted by the Ministry of Interior (MoI). Among the steps taken by Lekhwiya are patrols conducted in various parts of the country, the video shows. The patrols are carried out in co-operation with Al-Fazaa and the General Directorate of Traffic. During these patrols, Lekhwiya personnel raise awareness among motorists about the importance of Covid-19 preventive measures. They educate people on how to properly use masks and gloves to stay safe and prevent infections. In the Industrial Area, Lekhwiya has been involved in the disinfection and sterilisation work carried out there. It has also played a key role in keeping part of the area closed as part of the preventive and precautionary steps taken by the State. Lekhwiya has so far disinfected some 2,000 vehicles coming from the Industrial Area while around 4,000 people have also been sanitised. The Ministry of Interior (MoI) has mobilised all its capabilities in the fight against Covid-19 and to protect society from the virus by adopting a slew of measures. MoI departments are working to ensure that people follow the safety guidelines and participating in community awareness campaigns. In general, the number of patrols has been increased across the country in order to ensure public safety. Al-Fazaa is also securing the closed part of the Industrial Area and conducting patrols all over the country to monitor compliance with the instructions issued by the competent authorities. The patrols ensure that there is no gathering in public places and people follow social distancing guidelines. Besides, Al-Fazaa ensures that shops are closed as per government directives. Al-Fazaa has set up checkpoints throughout the country with the aim of providing more protection to the community against the risk of the virus and to avoid infection. The Traffic Patrol and Investigation Department at the General Directorate of Traffic has provided round-the-clock support to all relevant departments of the MoI such as Al Fazaa, the Capital Security Department and security departments in external areas. Efforts to secure street and road traffic, and provide advice and guidance to drivers have been consolidated through the specific follow-up and inspection points. These are done with the purpose of educating road users to stay at home to ensure public safety and support Qatar’s efforts in confronting the pandemic.

Gulf Times
Qatar
Crisis management panel receives QR74.2mn

The Supreme Committee for Crisis Management has received contributions from 201 businesses and 157 individuals, totalling QR74.2mn. Apart from Qatar National Bank, the list of major financial contributors included names of Muhammad Abdul Rahman Al Bahr & Sons and Al Adekhar Real Estate. Katara Hospitality Management, Aspire Zone and Urbacon Trading and Contracting are the major three real estate contributors. Qatar Foundation and Al Rayyan Restaurant Management are on the top of the list of service sector contributors. The committee has received several contributions that stood below QR10,000 while real estate contributions were made by hotels, resorts and residential complexes. The committee has received contributions of workers housing and residential complexes. “Individuals and businesses of all sizes have actively supported the efforts of Qatar to fight the novel ocronavirus (Covid-19) through financial, service and real estate sector contributions,” the website of Government Communication Office (GCO) said. Moza Khaled al-Mohannadi, head of the Support and Contribution Initiative Committee had explained that 155 companies have expressed their readiness to contribute in support of the efforts to combat Covid-19. Individuals and companies can make contributions through the website of the National Committee for Combating Covid-19 by using this link. Out of the total contributions, 45% are service sector contributors, 36% are financial contributors and real estate contributors constitute 19%. The Supreme Committee for Crisis Management decided to create this platform to receive registration of contributions of individuals and companies after many individuals and institutions made contributions before launching the platform. The platform receives all financial, real estate and service contributions through a special account.

The delegation members visiting an under construction facility in the Industrial Area. PICTURES: Shameer Rasheed
Qatar
Industrial Area quarantine facilities win praise from community leaders

Qatar’s efforts to ensure the welfare and rights of workers in the Industrial Area have won appreciation from the leaders of various expatriate communities. They praised the ministries and voluntary organisations concerned after a visit on Saturday to the area where workers are quarantined due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis. “Things are going quite well and adequate measures have been put in place to ensure the welfare of workers,” said Riyaz Ahmed Bakali, who represented the Pakistani community during the visit to the area. Doha Industrial Quarantine Area commander Lt Col Ahmad al-Ghanim and the Ministry of Interior's (MoI) Public Relations Department director Brig Gen Abdullah Khalifa al-Muftah led the delegation. The delegation members interacting with officials during the visit V C Mashood, general convenor of Kerala Pravasi Coordination Committee, thanked the MoI for organising the visit and said the delegation was quite impressed by being helped to understand the ground reality. “Proper measures have been taken to make everyone safe. And the visit helped the outer world get an idea about how things are going on at the area under lockdown,” he said. He pointed out that much attention is paid towards the area referring to the efforts to set up hospitals there. A P Perera of Sri Lanka Co-ordinating Committee said that all activities are carried out under a proper system that is well-managed and closely monitored. “In fact, we were clueless about the situations there. The authorities are taking much efforts to keep the area clean,” he said, adding that everything is properly planned. The activities in the Industrial Area speak volumes about the commitment of the Qatar government towards expatriate workers. “We found Qatari officials and volunteers actively engaged in welfare activities. Driven by commitment towards the workers, they actively discharged their duties. This echoes the commitment of Qatar towards its expatriate community,” he added. The delegation, according to Padam Giri of Non Residents Nepalese Association (NRNA), found money exchanges are functioning in the area under lockdown in order to help the affected workers send money home. “The workers are helped by the government to meet the basic needs easily as groceries and pharmacies are functioning. And life is quite normal,” he said. Henry Dimaano, one of the Philippine community leaders, praised the voluntary organisations terming their services in the area appreciable. “Everything is carried out in a professional manner. Hospitals are opened and mobile medical units deployed. The correct proceedings are followed by officials and organisations,” he added.

A view of the hospital. PICTURES: Shemeer Rasheed
Qatar
Closed part of Industrial Area to get three field hospitals

Massive efforts are under way in the closed part of the Industrial Area as part of the government's plans to ensure adequate and quality medical care for workers. The area will get three field hospitals, which will carry out tests and extend medical care to the workers there, according to a health official. Dr Khalid Abdulnoor Work on one of these facilities has started and it is expected to be completed within days. “Work of one hospital is under way and a plan has been chalked out to set up two more hospitals,” said Dr Khalid Abdulnoor, who is in charge of medical operations in the area. The first hospital will have 190 beds, including 40 beds to deal with emergency cases. The huge emergency section will be able to cater to "1,000-2,000 people a day". A section of the under-construction hospital “We are getting co-operation from the private sector and voluntary organisations. Facilities have been offered by generous persons and some of them have also allowed us to make use of the buildings in the area,” he said. Observation facilities will be set up in a building provided by a Qatari businessman. An outpatient clinic is functioning in the area and testing and examinations are carried out there. The official said all the medication is provided for free by Hamad Medical Corporation. At present, the authorities have set up ambulance services to transport people who are in need for care.

u201cGroceries and pharmacies are also open to help them meet daily requirements. Ooredoo has also made arrangements for workers to conduct financial transfers,u201d  said Lt Col Ahmad al- Ghanim, Doha Industrial Quarantine Area commander.  PICTURES: Shemeer Rasheed
Qatar
Industrial Area workers well looked after: MoI

Qatar is paying much attention towards the Industrial Area where workers are quarantined by ensuring availability of food, medical care and other essential services. “Adequate steps have been taken to ensure the rights and essential services for workers here. An executive committee is working in co-operation with various agencies and the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and we are spending maximum force to protect the workers and ensure their welfare,” said Lt Col Ahmad al- Ghanim, Doha Industrial Quarantine Area commander during a field visit of media persons and community leaders to the Industrial Area Saturday. Director of Public Relations Department at the Ministry of Interior (MoI) Brigadier General Abdullah Khalifa al-Muftah also briefed the visitors. Brigadier General Abdullah Khalifa al-Muftah At the Industrial Area, which is under tight security, the government has set up a supply chain through which workers get food and essential commodities including hand sanitisers, masks and soaps. Besides, money exchanges are functioning in the area to help workers remit money home," the officials said. Lt Col Ahmad al- Ghanim “Groceries and pharmacies are also open to help them meet daily requirements. Ooredoo has also made arrangements for workers to conduct financial transfers,” Lt Col al-Ghanim said, adding that life is quite normal for workers in the Industrial Area and officials are holding regular interactions with them to assess their requirements. He added that food is distributed in co-operation with various government agencies and voluntary organisations. "Ambulances and healthcare equipment along with a medical team are available for the service of workers and we are getting co-operation from various organisations to smoothly carry out the day to day activities. A team is also working to remove the waste." Besides, the official said awareness campaigns are conducted in a bid to educate the workers and make them aware of the precautionary measures to be taken against the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19). The Ministry of Interior, in association with various agencies, are distributing awareness brochures in nine languages in the area. A team of doctors checks the food before distribution. “Day-to-day activities are done as per a systematic mechanism and the developments here are closely monitored,” he said. HE the Spokesperson for the Supreme Committee for Crisis Management Lolwah bint Rashid bin Mohamed al-Khater had earlier said that work had already begun on the plan to gradually open the Industrial Area. “The reopening will be in a manner that guarantees the safety of its residents and society as a whole, as well as the return of supply chains to normal,” she said.

A HOPE Qatar student working on his assignment from home-based on virtual instructions from teachers at the centre; A teacher conducting a group virtual class.
Qatar
Ensure crisis does not hamper autistic children, says expert

Experts are sharing tips to ensure that autistic children get continuous care and their development is not hampered due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the education sector. The issue was highlighted around Qatar, and across the globe, on Thursday on the occasion of World Autism Awareness Day. Dr Rajeev Mathew Thomas, HOPE Qatar founder and managing director, said children with special needs deserve special care during the ongoing crisis and parents have to pay extra attention to them. He stressed that steps should be taken to ensure that such children continue to receive therapeutic and educational support during the school closure period through virtual learning, videos and telephonic support. “Parents also need to get trained on how these children are managed. They can consult specialised centres for support and training,” he explained, adding that HOPE Qatar has launched home learning and offers virtual education support. Forty students are receiving support at home through the system, which has been completely developed by the staff. “The students are taught through video learning and worksheets, while parents are taught to help the children at their home,” he said. Dr Thomas said video-conferencing ensures that the children do not miss their friends. “They need psychological support. They find it very difficult and challenging if they are isolated. They need extreme support and speech, occupational, and physical therapies should continue,” he said, urging parents to make use of online services and to avoid exposing the children to people from outside. Regarding Covid-19, he said: “If parents suspect a child has been exposed to somebody who is infected, immediate medical attention should be sought. The child should go into isolation or quarantine if that is advised.” Further, he said parents should help the child do what he or she may find difficult to do. “There is a need to adopt proper precautionary measures. A child with special needs may not be able to do things like other kids. Parents should teach him/her to take precautionary measures such as covering the mouth, washing the hands and maintaining social distancing. Parents can show them how to do these things. And this could be done as a game or in a funny way. This can help the child learn things easily and they may imitate the parents through acts like washing the hands and covering the mouth,” he explained. "I re-emphasise the need to continually stimulate the children with intellectual challenges while they wait out the restrictions period in their homes," he added. On their part, the health authorities in Qatar have suggested a daily schedule for people with autism spectrum disorder. An infographic, posted on the social media pages of the Ministry of Public Health, Hamad Medical Corporation and Primary Health Care Corporation, advised parents to use visual techniques and pictures to explain the schedule to their child. The schedule includes activities such as family walk, one-to-one learning time (homework, skills training as agreed with professionals, etc), playtime, quiet time, active time (active sensory play), family activity time and reading, among others. The full schedule is available at https://www.moph.gov.qa/Style%20Library/MOPH/Videos/dailyscheduleASDen.pdf Parents are advised to use the schedule as a sample, noting that they may have to adapt it as per the family routine and resources. According to Dr Christina Lee Roberts, school psychologist at Renad Academy – a specialised school for children diagnosed with autism, under Qatar Foundation’s Pre-University Education – children with autism and their families require supportive strategies to cope with this uncertain time. “Children with autism may face additional challenges, including difficulty understanding what is happening, inability to express their anxiety, and the need to have a constant routine, all of which may exacerbate their anxiety during this stressful period,” she explained. “This is why parents are encouraged to use supportive strategies that they have adopted in the past to build and sustain their child’s emotional health and wellbeing. “Keeping routines in place is vital, as children with autism thrive in a structured environment." Another way to assist students in adapting and adjusting to the current situation is creativity, she says. Dr Roberts also emphasised the importance of children with autism staying virtually connected with their teachers throughout school closures. This year’s World Autism Awareness Day focuses on the theme, ‘The Transition to Adulthood’. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said the observance “takes place in the midst of a public health crisis unlike any other in our lifetime” and urged that special care be taken for autistic children. “Persons with autism have the right to self-determination, independence and autonomy, as well as the right to education and employment on an equal basis with others. But the breakdown of vital support systems and networks as a result of Covid-19 exacerbates the obstacles that persons with autism face in exercising these rights. We must ensure that a prolonged disruption caused by the emergency does not result in rollbacks of the rights that persons with autism and their representative organisations have worked so hard to advance,” his message reads. “The rights of persons with autism must be taken into account in the formulation of all responses to the Covid-19 virus. On World Autism Awareness Day, let us stand together, support each other and show solidarity with persons with autism,” it adds. QF initiative helps over 300 children Qatar Foundation (QF)’s Ability Friendly Football Program started delivering classes in 2019, and, since then, has worked with more than 300 children with specific needs across the country. Initially, the programme started as community classes, quickly followed by the introduction of a school programme, too, which saw the Ability Friendly Football Program team take the initiative out to the wider community and visit local Special Educational Needs schools and centres to provide children with more access to sports.

Mohamed Hassan al-Obaidly addressing the press conference. PICTURE: Jayaram
Qatar
Ministry launches new hotline to receive workers' complaints

The Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA) has launched a new hotline, 92727, to receive workers’ complaints. This was announced at a press conference addressed by Mohamed Hassan al-Obaidly, Assistant Undersecretary for Labour Affairs at the ministry, in Doha on Tuesday. The hotline will function round-the-clock, and workers can register their complaints by using their Qatar ID (QID) or visa number. It is available in multiple languages. Workers have to send an SMS to 92727 by adding 5 before the QID or visa number. During the press conference, al-Obaidly gave details of the measures adopted by the MADLSA to ensure the rights of workers in the country. He noted that the ministry is monitoring the situation and taking all necessary measures to ensure the welfare of workers. “Measures have been taken to ensure that workers receive their basic salary and allowances from their employer during this period,” he said, adding that the ministry is closely monitoring the developments and the companies have to pay salaries by the seventh of a month. Companies that fail to pay salaries by this date will face action, it was stressed. Workers can also contact the ministry at 16008 or by email at [email protected] seeking support to resolve their grievances. He said companies have the right to terminate contracts but the termination should be done in compliance with the terms of the Labour Law and the contract, including factors such as the notice period and payment of pending entitlements such as return ticket to the home country. “The ministry is focusing on raising awareness and ensuring their (workers’) health. Priority is given to improving relations with workers and expatriates,” he explained. Referring to the recent allocation of QR3bn as guarantees to local banks, al-Obaidly said financial assistance will be given to companies in order to help them pay the employees and employers to clear various dues, including rent. The assistance will not be paid in cash and companies will be given support upon their requests to the banks. Banks will approach the MADLSA and the allocated amount will be used by banks to pay the employees. Al-Obaidly said the ministry will ensure that all those who are quarantined are paid. “Companies are co-operating with the government in this regard. They are willing to pay and follow the rules,” he said. He added that the ministry has ensured that all workers get proper accommodation, food and treatment during this period. “There is no discrimination against anyone and steps will be taken to help the terminated workers go home by co-ordinating with their home countries,” he said. Al-Obaidly explained that a lot of attention is being paid to the Industrial Area, food is distributed among workers in co-operation with various agencies. He also informed that a worker who is outside Qatar can enter the country with an expired ID and it can be renewed after the entry without penalty. “There is co-ordination with the Ministry of Interior in this regard,” he added.

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Qatar
GCO launches Covid-19 page on its website

The Government Communications Office (GCO) has launched a coronavirus (Covid-19) page on its website, which includes information on all precautionary measures taken by Qatar to prevent the spread of Covid-19 as well as answers to several frequently asked questions (FAQs). The page can be found at https://www.gco.gov.qa/en/focus/covid-19/ “The State of Qatar has been taking all the precautionary measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in order to ensure the safety of all its residents. These precautionary measures may change based on the latest guidance by the national health authorities and international organisations regarding the spread of Covid-19,” the page states. "The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) urges all citizens and residents to apply preventive measures to protect against infection as recommended by the ministry on its website (https://www.moph.gov.qa/english/Pages/default.aspx) and social media accounts," the GCO Covid-19 page points out. "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls on all citizens, children of Qatari women and spouses of Qatari citizens to register their details through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs application or on its website (https://mofa.gov.qa/en/e-services/citizens-registration/citizens-registration) so they may be contacted in case of emergencies," it adds. A dedicated, round-the-clock call centre has been set up to answer all questions and enquiries related to Covid-19. The toll-free hotline number is 16000, the page reminds. The page provides details such as the daily Covid-19 data issued by the MoPH, relevant charts and FAQs pertaining to self-sufficiency, education, preventative measures and travel. It also contains links to GCO press releases and statement and MoPH Covid-19 resources. “Despite the disruption caused by the outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19), the flow of goods, services, food and medical supplies to the local market will remain uninterrupted in Qatar. These supplies are closely monitored to ensure quality and guard against price inflation or monopolistic practices,” the self-sufficiency section says. It details the measures are being taken to meet the needs of consumers, procedures are in place to maintain stable food prices and enquiries on facemasks and hand sanitisers. The preventative measures section includes tips on washing hands, ensuring social distancing and covering the nose and mouth. It also has answers to some frequently asked questions. The education section has updates related to education and higher education in the country and questions regarding the activities/programmes being implemented by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. It also deals with questions regarding the reopening of schools and other educational institutions. The travel section shares awareness tips, including the current travel and entry policy of Qatar and updates from the airport and various ministries.

Engineer Anbar Mubarak A B al-Ali
Qatar
Kahramaa fully equipped to meet Qatar 2022 water requirements

The Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa) is set to meet the drinking water requirements of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, a senior official told Gulf times in an exclusive interview. "We are responsible to ensure the distribution of quality drinking water in all venues and other facilities during the mega event. Arrangements are being made to ensure that we will discharge our duties very well,” said engineer Anbar Mubarak A B al-Ali, manager, Water Operations and Control at Water Network Affairs of Kahramaa, explained. A view of Kahramaa Water Quality Lab “We have so far held meetings with the authorities concerned in this regard. We have completed the projects that are aimed at distributing water to the 2022 FIFA World Cup facilities,” the Kahramaa official said. Action plans have been made to meet any emergencies. “We are equipped with systematic online monitoring. If something happens we will be alerted and we will rectify it at an early stage,” he said. In line with the steep rise in Qatar’s population, demand for testing and analytical services has been significantly growing. "Aligning with Qatar National Vision 2030 and to meet the current and expected demand, the Corporation will establish by fourth quarter of 2020, a unique type of massive ultra-modern water quality laboratory with the most advanced and sophisticated analytical equipment in the field of chemical and microbiological aspects,” he added.

The water quality laboratory of Kahramaa. PICTURES: Nasar K Moideen
Qatar
Kahramaa committed to provide quality water to all, says official

Given its uncompromising approach to quality, the Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation (Kahramaa) has succeeded in ensuring the availability of best quality water for all, it has been highlighted. "One of the main objectives of Kahramaa is to provide all with quality water. We remain uncompromising when it comes to ensuring water quality and our efforts are on to make sure that everyone gets water that meets the best standards,” said Anbar Mubarak A B al-Ali, manager, Water Operations and Control at Kahramaa's Water Network Affairs, in an exclusive interview with Gulf Times. Anbar Mubarak A B al-Ali, Water Network Affairs, Kahramaa “In fact, Kahramaa’s water quality standards have exceeded international standards set by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It has been maintaining the microbiological water quality compliance-level at 99% for its supplied potable water quality, while the WHO guidelines require a microbiological water quality compliance of at least 95%,” the Kahramaa official said. Since its establishment, the corporation has been providing the best quality potable water for Qatar, adhering to the WHO standards and guidelines. This is achieved by the implementation of effective water safety plans and drinking water distribution network system. Kahramaa enjoys a good reputation for providing consumers with safe potable water of a quality that meets the WHO values and GCC standardisation organisation-specified recommended range. Al-Ali said the corporation has a monitoring mechanism to ensure the continuous supply of drinking water in Qatar in compliance with the highest international standards and specifications. “Samples of water are collected from various points and tested in our water quality laboratory. We have set a yearly sampling plan following the WHO guidelines. From the production facility to the different phases involved and customer service points - there is checking at all points,” he said. The laboratory has three dedicated wings for sampling, microbiological analysis and chemical analysis. Qualified and experienced staff with a constant focus on international guidelines and internal regulatory compliance, run the laboratory and follow globally recognised analytical methods to assess the water quality. Since 2012, the ISO 17025-accredited laboratory has been equipped with the most state-of-the-art analytical equipment. It offers a comprehensive range of potable water analytical services to the corporation’s stakeholders and customers. It’s engaged in the routine monitoring of water quality distributed through the entire drinking water distribution network. All the analytical methods adopted there are selected based on the highest levels of accuracy, reliability and technological advancement that conform to international standards. The analysts are highly qualified and experienced along with proven skills and competencies. The laboratory follows the physical, chemical and bacteriological analysis mechanism and the whole laboratory operation, starting from sampling until reporting, is managed and controlled by a dynamic laboratory information management system. Qualified and dedicated analysts perform the analytical activities where various physical, chemical and microbiological parameters are analysed. The routinely analysed physical, chemical and microbiological parameters are pertinent to consumers' health concerns that represent the comprehensive water quality profile and indicates any untoward changes in the anticipated water quality trends. All tested water quality components are assessed in comparison with the latest international standards as per the WHO guidelines. Kahramaa formulates a yearly sampling plan and has specific zonal demands to fulfil the operational and regulatory requirements. The sampling plan is designed in a way that covers the routine monitoring of the entire drinking water distribution network, including production facility delivery, PRPS (mega reservoirs), SRPS (secondary reservoirs), fire hydrants (network line), tanker filling station and water tankers. In addition to this, the laboratory is also active in providing on-demand analytical services based on consumers' complaints related to water quality and the commissioning and maintenance of new mains, lines and reservoirs. Page 15