SCH taking measures to prevent Mers spread
June 05 2014 12:20 AM

By Joseph Varghese/Staff Reporter

Qatar’s Supreme Council of Health (SCH) is adopting  a number of measures to prevent the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona virus (Mers CoV) in consultation with the World Health Organisation.
A public awareness campaign targeting persons dealing with the camels, medical personnel and travellers will be launched soon.
The Ministry of Environment has banned import of camels from outside GCC countries. All the camels imported to the country are tested  against Mers CoV.  In case of positive results, the animals will be isolated for 30 days and then retested. Camels will not be allowed to be taken across the border, except for the ones with tariff brackets and passage passports.
Dr Salih Ali al-Marri, assistant secretary general for Medical Affairs, SCH, said that Qatar was fully prepared to meet any challenges arising out of Mers CoV.  
“All the hospitals and health centres under Hamad Medical Corporation and Primary Health Care Corporation have been given clear guidelines to treat any person suffering from the disease.  Qatar will continue the state of preparedness to monitor suspected cases and ensure full implementation of infection prevention and control measures at all healthcare facilities.”
The SCH has already implemented measures for national capacity building to raise the efficiency of diagnosis in the medical laboratories in HMC and the laboratories of the MoE. It has also provided laboratories with modern equipment and devices for diagnosing virus as well as  training of technical staff.
There will be co-ordination between the GCC member states and the regional offices of the international organisations to reach the appropriate procedures to prevent transmission of the disease. The feasibility of the development of a network for information about animal production, including the results of laboratory testing and regulations is being explored.
As per the SCH suggestions, camel farm and slaughterhouse workers should enforce good personal and hand hygiene, with frequent hand washing after touching animals, facial protection where feasible and the wearing of protective clothing, which should be removed after work and washed daily.
Accordingly, workers should avoid exposing family members to soiled work clothing, shoes, or other items that may have come into contact with camels or camel excretions. Sick animals should never be slaughtered for consumption. If a particular animal has been tested and confirmed positive for Mers CoV, people should avoid direct contact with such animals.
Enhancing environmental health and hygiene in camel farms and barns and ensuring the availability of water, soap and personnel protective tools such as masks, protective clothing and gloves is another measure to overcome the disease.
There will also be more serological, epidemiological surveys and field studies to fight the disease.

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