'Follow preventive steps strictly to bring coronavirus cases down'
May 15 2020 12:33 AM
Dr Abdullatif al-Khal
Dr Abdullatif al-Khal

Qatar has entered the peak phase of the Covid-19 pandemic but yet to reach the highest point of the curve, a senior official has said.

Under these circumstances, and as the country witnessed an increase in Covid-19 cases over the last week, it is vitally important that people strictly follow preventive as well as physical and social distancing measures "now more than ever", said Dr Abdullatif al-Khal, chair of the National Pandemic Preparedness Committee and head of Infectious Diseases at Hamad Medical Corporation.

He made the observation while addressing a press conference on Thursday  along with Dr Hanadi al-Hamad, national lead for Healthy Ageing in Qatar, and medical director of Rumailah Hospital and Qatar Rehabilitation Institute.

"We are entering the peak of the pandemic in Qatar and the number of daily confirmed cases has risen steadily in the past week," Dr al-Khal said.

There have been a total of 28,272 confirmed cases in Qatar so far, with 1,733 cases registered in the last 24 hours - the highest daily figure since the start of the outbreak in the country.

The number of people admitted to intensive care is 417 so far, with about 11-15 cases being taken to the ICU daily in the last week for treatment.

"The number of people being tested has increased and we have launched a community study to learn more about the epidemiology of the virus within the larger community and about the prevalence of cases of infection that do not show symptoms," he noted.

The increasing number of Covid-19 tests reflects a surge in the central laboratories' capacity, with the number of tests reaching 7,400 samples on a daily basis.

He observed that lack of social distancing among people has led to a rise in the number of cases in the past week. The figure has increased by more than 50% compared to the week before, he noted.

It was observed that many families met during Garangao and this led to an increase in the number of cases, the press conference was told.

"Now more than ever, it is vitally important that people strictly follow the preventive and physical and social distancing measures," he stressed. "However tempting - especially during Ramadan and Eid - it is really important that you stay at home and only go out when it is absolutely necessary.

"We continue to see many patients making a full recovery from Covid-19 every day and more than 3,000 patients have now recovered from the virus," he continued.

He also warned that even young people are at risk of severe Covid-19 infection. "So, please stay safe," he advised.

The maximum number of cases diagnosed are in the 25-34 years age group, accounting for 36.7% of the cases.

"Anyone with signs and symptoms of Covid-19 should come forward for testing so that we can provide you with the care and treatment you need," Dr al-Khal said. "We have taken every necessary measure to ensure that our hospitals and health centres are safe to attend - the measures we have taken are to prevent the further spread of the virus and protect our patients and staff.

"Our hospitals are seeing more patients being admitted as we climb towards the peak - with more being admitted to intensive care. Although the death rate remains very low in Qatar compared to the rest of the world, people are still getting very sick and it can be a very traumatic and painful experience for those who end up needing intensive care support."

People in the 40-49 years age group are the most likely to be admitted to the ICU, data show. Also, 94% of the total cases are mild ones.

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