Must guard against a second wave of Covid-19: official
August 13 2020 10:40 PM
Dr Abdullatif al-Khal (right) and Dr Hamad al-Romaihi at the press conference
Dr Abdullatif al-Khal (right) and Dr Hamad al-Romaihi at the press conference


*Unless cases continue to drop, restrictions may return: al-Khal

Though Qatar is midway through Phase 3 of the lifting of restrictions, there is a real risk of returning to earlier phases, unless there is continued improvement in the number of new daily cases, a senior official cautioned on Thursday.

"A second wave of Covid-19 is a very real threat - as several other countries around the world are now experiencing," Dr Abdullatif al-Khal, chair of the National Strategic Group on Covid-19, said during a press conference convened by the Ministry of Public Health.

The measures put in place have succeeded in lowering the number of new daily cases over the past two months, he said at the press conference telecast on Qatar TV.

"At the peak of the virus in Qatar, we saw more than 2,000 new confirmed cases a day, but for the past few weeks the number has constantly remained under 500," al-Khal ,who is also the head of the Infectious Diseases Division at Hamad Medical Corporation, said.

"This is considerable achievement, but evidence from countries around the world shows that it is very difficult to completely eradicate the virus - we expect a low, but consistent number of new cases to be identified each day for many months. It is clear that the world will be living with Covid-19 for some time to come," al-Khal said.

Despite the total number of new cases declining considerably in recent weeks and months, there has been a worrying trend of increasing cases within the Qatari community and expat professional population groups, observed the official.

"This is due to a minority of people within these population groups who continue to ignore preventive advice - putting themselves and those around them at risk.

"We have seen repeated examples during both Eid holidays and throughout Ramadan of the virus spreading within families due to one or two individuals not adhering to social and physical distancing guidelines.

"This is of particular concern as it is the elderly and those with chronic diseases who are most at risk of serious complications from Covid-19, and the Qatari and expat professional population makes up a large proportion of these vulnerable people," Dr al-Khal added.

Meanwhile, another senior official suggested creating a safe zone in the house for elderly relatives who are at risk from Covid-19.

"One designated area of the house should be set apart for these at risk people," explained Dr Hamad al-Romaihi, director of Health Protection and Communicable Disease Control at the Public Health Department and co-chair of the National Pandemic Preparation Committee.

Last updated: August 13 2020 11:54 PM

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