* National Pandemic Preparedness Committee formed
* System to monitor influenza and influenza-like illness (ILI) established and linked to HMC's Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology
* Ehteraz smartphone app launched

The Ministry of Public Health has established a system to monitor influenza and influenza-like illness (ILI) since the emergence of the severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003 and H1N1 in 2009.

This system has been linked to the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), which has been named as a National Influenza Centre by the World Health Organisation (WHO), a senior Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has said.

Sheikh Dr Mohamed bin Hamad al-Thani, director of the Public Health Department at the ministry, made these observations while explaining the various possibilities offered by the MoPH to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic in an interview with Qatar News Agency.

He said this is the way in which the national surveillance mechanism is being built in response to the coronavirus pandemic, pointing out that the ministry has formed teams to trace and detect the disease early, co-ordinate with Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology and approve the available data in the influenza surveillance system about related diseases and the WHO's recommendations and directives.

He noted that the ministry formed the National Pandemic Preparedness Committee to study the situation in the country, develop plans and projects and follow up on the implementation of these plans to address the disease. The committee is composed of active members of the MoPH and other relevant ministries, in co-ordination with the Supreme Committee for Crisis Management, and a group of medical teams has been formed to support the work of the committees.

He pointed out that medical teams at the country's entry points undertook the procedures of examining passengers coming from different countries and subjecting them to quarantine upon arrival for a period of 14 days to assess, follow up and ensure that they are free from the virus, while transferring infected cases to the Communicable Disease Center at HMC.

Several field medical teams, including doctors, nurses and technicians, were allocated from the MoPH, HMC and the Primary Health Care Corporation to tackle the virus.

Sheikh Dr Mohamed said within the context of co-operation of all sectors with the MoPH, a smartphone app named Ehteraz has been launched with the aim of strengthening the State's precautionary efforts to tackle the coronavirus and provide multiple services to enhance preventive measures and reduce the spread of the virus.

A community awareness campaign has also been implemented and drones have been used to broadcast awareness messages through loudspeakers, emphasising the need to adhere to safety measures and urging the public to stay at home and prevent gatherings and praying on the roofs of buildings to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The MoPH website has a dedicated page on Covid-19, which includes the latest information and resources about the virus in several languages, in addition to allocating a round-the-clock hotline, 16000, to respond to all enquiries.

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