A total of 25 suspected cases were tested negative in Qatar for the new coronavirus so far, it was announced on Sunday.

“All the 25 suspected cases, including two reported on Saturday, were quarantined and tested," Dr Abdullatif Mohamed al-Khal, head of Infectious Diseases Division, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and chairman of Pandemic Preparedness Committee, said.

He was addressing a press conference to explain the steps taken by Qatar to face the situation emerging from the new coronavirus that originated in the Chinese province of Wuhan resulting in the death of over 300 people so far.

Sheikh Dr Mohamed bin Hamad al-Thani, director of Public Health at the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH); Dr Khalid Hamid Elawad, health protection manager at Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) as well as Dr Hamad Eid al-Rumaihi, director of Health Protection and Communicable Diseases, MoPH were also present.

Sheikh Dr Mohamed said Qatar is monitoring the situation very closely and the entire health sector, both the public and private sector in the country, is ready to deal with any developments related to the virus.

“The cases reported outside China are not many, as there are only about 70 cases in Europe, America and Asia. We are following the situation as a pandemic public health emergency and as an international concern. The whole world is extending support to China, and Qatar is also trying to assist in different ways. The virus is found to be transmitting more from animal to human, and human to human transmission is less,” the official explained.

Dr al-Khal noted there are joint efforts led by MoPH, HMC, PHCC, Hamad International Airport and Qatar Airways to tackle the situation.

“Everyone returning from China are screened at the airport and those found with fever and respiratory problems are immediately admitted. They are quarantined, tested and discharged within 24 hours if the test is negative. This is done every day including weekends,” pointed out Dr al-Khal.

He asked the public to avoid travelling to China unless it is very urgent. “Practise hand hygiene, avoid touching nose, mouth and eyes when hands are not clean and avoid contact with sick people. If you are sick, stay home. Since other winter viruses are prevalent, the same preventive measures should be taken for coronavirus,” he advised.

According to Dr Elawad, since the announcement of the disease in China, PHCC has notified the medical staff of the necessary procedures for suspected cases and how to transfer them to the relevant medical authorities.

"The cases we are currently focusing on are those coming from China within 14 days. The symptoms of the new virus are similar to the symptoms of influenza. All health centres are ready to deal with any case and transfer them (suspected cases) to the medical authorities to complete the necessary procedures,” he added.

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