* Qatar going ahead with first phase of easing Covid measures as planned
* Further privileges will be given as more people get inoculated
* Those planning to travel should get fully vaccinated along with family members and check conditions in destination country
Dr Abdullatif al-Khal, chair of the National Strategic Group on Covid-19 and head of the Infectious Diseases Division at HMC, Wednesday said Qatar is going ahead with the first phase of the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions as planned, and the development is linked to positive indicators seen regarding the number of infections in the society.
"Though we were worried about a rise in infections after the Eid holidays, these were considerably low due to the high level of awareness among the people and the progress of the national vaccination programme. However, the gradual lifting of restrictions in the coming period does not mean there should be laxity in following the Covid-19 preventive and precautionary measures as the virus is still there and spreading in many countries," he told Qatar TV in an interview.
"Vaccination and the precautionary measures complement each other and people should continue to follow the measures to continue curbing the spread of the disease. The new strains of the virus are more infectious and spread more quickly, and the measures are there for the protection of the people, in particular those who have not got the vaccine so far. As more and more people get the vaccine, more privileges will be given to them," Dr al-Khal said.
The official said 60% of eligible people in Qatar have got at least one dose of the vaccine and more than 1mn people have received both doses. "Until now, the effectiveness of vaccines used in Qatar against the new strains has been proven and we are safe from them, according to the latest scientific findings. If the manufacturers find out any out new information, updates will be given accordingly."
He also advised people thinking of travelling abroad to make sure that they get vaccinated along with their family members and comply with the regulations and requirements of the countries they are visiting. "They should also check conditions in the destination country and make sure that the country has good and effective healthcare infrastructure and facilities, in particular for the elderly and those with chronic diseases. Also, people should avoid travel to high-risk countries," Dr al-Khal said.
He stressed that the vaccines being used in Qatar are highly safe and most of the side effects usually disappear within 48 hours. "It is very rare that we hear about severe or medium side effects," he said, adding that these side effects would be less severe than the symptoms seen in cases of Covid-19 infection.
"Both the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna vaccines are highly safe and effective and has no considerable differences," he added. "Studies indicate that vaccination is very safe during pregnancy, and there is no increase in symptoms after taking the vaccine, whether a woman is pregnant or not. Those with hypersensitivity should make sure that they take the vaccine at hospitals during working hours to receive the due care in case of any potential consequences."