No case of the new coronavirus infection has been registered in Qatar and all precautionary measures are in place to impede the spread of the disease through travellers coming to the country, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) announced on Wednesday.
"The MoPH is following the updates on the new coronavirus, which appeared in China and spread to a number of other countries," it was explained in a statement.
Deaths from China's new flu-like virus rose to 17 on Wednesday with more than 540 cases confirmed, increasing fears of contagion from an infection suspected to originate from illegally traded wildlife, according to Reuters.
The previously unknown coronavirus strain is believed to have emerged from an animal market in the central city of Wuhan, with cases now detected as far away as the US. All the deaths are reported from Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital.
With more than 11mn people, Wuhan is central China's main industrial and commercial centre and a transport hub, home to the country's largest inland port and gateway to its Three Gorges hydroelectric dam, Reuters reported.
According to the MoPH, the National Pandemic Preparedness Committee held a meeting attended by representatives from the ministry, Hamad Medical Corporation, and the Primary Health Care Corporation, in addition to representatives from Hamad International Airport, and Qatar Airways Medical Services.
During the meeting, the latest updates on the disease were discussed, besides the joint co-ordination mechanism among the departments concerned, the implementation of the necessary precautionary measures to impede the spread of infection through travellers coming to Qatar.
The committee issued precautionary recommendations that included increasing the alertness level of the monitoring and control system at the local and international levels in co-ordination with the World Health Organisation (WHO), which was meeting on Wednesday at its Geneva headquarters to decide whether the outbreak is a global health emergency.
Accordingly, the MoPH has issued the general guidelines and national instructions to deal with new coronavirus cases, instructing all the private and public hospitals, and health facilities to report any suspected case, in particular with travellers returning to Qatar from those countries where the disease has spread, within 14 days of their arrival.
The MoPH stressed that attention should be given to the cases that display symptoms of respiratory inflammation, as the health investigation team concerned will visit hospitals daily to ensure whether these patients are infected according to the WHO guidelines of the suspected cases.
The committee also approved the initiation of temperature screening for all the travellers arriving at HIA from China while raising the awareness among travellers about the disease and its symptoms which include high temperature, coughing and difficulty in breathing.
The MoPH has advised people to avoid unnecessary travel to the cities where the new coronavirus has spread in China presently and avoid close contact with animals in the infected areas, or the persons who show any of the related symptoms, and wash hands at regular intervals with soap and water.
Any related reports can be communicated to the team concerned at the hotline 66740951 or 66740948, round-the-clock.
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