Especially since a significant percentage of the public may be novel coronavirus (Covid-19) positive without having symptoms, wearing face masks protects people from the disease and prevents the transmission of infection to others, a senior official and health care expert has said.
The results of a drive-through Covid-19 survey carried out by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) at three health centres on May 6 and 7 had revealed that out of every 100 people in the community, there are 12 cases who do not have any symptoms.
QR200,000 fine , three years imprisonment
It will be mandatory in Qatar from Sunday for all individuals to wear a mask upon leaving the house for any reason, except when a person is alone while driving a vehicle.The Ministry of Interior has stressed it is authorised to take necessary measures to enforce the Cabinet decision in this regard. In case of non-compliance, the penalties stipulated are a fine of up to QR200,000, imprisonment for up to three years, or either of these penalties.
‘This result gives an indication of the seriousness of the virus,” stated Dr Abdullatif al-Khal, chair of the National Pandemic Preparedness Committee and head of Infectious Diseases at Hamad Medical Corporation, at a press conference on Thursday.
The survey included 1,308 male and female subjects with no symptoms and 11.9% of them - or 156 people - were found to be infected.
“Wearing face mask is an important policy that must be accompanied by other precautionary measures such as social distancing, maintaining a safe distance and avoiding crowded places, and using hand sanitisers and washing hands frequently,” explained Dr al-Khal.
Speaking about the outcomes of wearing masks, he emphasised that the recommendation to wear masks came as a result of knowing more about the nature and severity of the virus.
“It was noted that the countries that adopted wearing masks controlled the spread of the virus better than countries that did not adopt this strategy, which prompted many countries around the world to adopt this policy of wearing masks outside houses, a policy that has had important results in reducing the spread of the pandemic,” Dr al-Khal noted.
Though the mask limit infection, and reduces the possibility of infecting healthy people, Dr al-Khal cautioned that wearing a mask does not mean not to follow other procedures, most important of which is social distancing.
The number of infections among Qataris and residents have witnessed a noticeable increase during the past week as a result of non-compliance with the rules of social distancing and with the preventive measures in general, the senior official observed.
Although most of the new cases are among expatriate workers, the past week witnessed a rise in the number of infected people among Qataris and residents by about 50% compared to two weeks ago, he noted.
Dr al-Khal warned against gatherings and social meetings during the remaining days of the holy month, as well as during the days of Eid Al-Fitr, saying that people must adhere to preventive measures and measures of social distance, and stay at home whatever the reasons, especially during Eid Al-Fitr.