Precautionary steps 'halved' Covid-19 cases in Qatar: Dr al-Khal
May 02 2020 12:35 AM
Dr Abdullatif al-Khal
Dr Abdullatif al-Khal

Most of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) cases in Qatar are mainly concentrated among people placed under quarantine in advance, and the number of infections would have been almost double but for the precautionary measures and early tracking, a senior official said.
Dr Abdullatif al-Khal, chair of the National Strategic Group of Covid-19, co-Chair of the National Pandemic Preparedness Committee at the Ministry of Public Health and head of the Infectious Diseases at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), was addressing a press conference with Dr Einas al-Kuwari, chair of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at HMC on Thursday evening.
“Those who are placed under quarantine are often in contact with others who have been diagnosed with the virus, whether from the expatriate workers, those returning from travel, or family members who were in contact with an infected person,” he explained.
Dr al-Khal pointed out that since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak in Qatar on February 28, its spread has been limited and was more concentrated among Qatari returnees from abroad and subsequently quarantined in either the designated facilities or home.
“The situation changed in March, especially starting from March 8, 2020 after the discovery of the first infection among workers, when the Ministry of Public Health tracked the cases in contact with the first cases among workers. An increasing number of people infected with the virus were discovered, and the epidemiology of the virus changed in Qatar since then,” he said.
At present, Dr al-Khal said the infections among the returnees from travel are declining and have become very limited, while the number of cases discovered in the country, particularly among expatriate workers working in different occupations, has increased.
Recently, an increasing number of infections was discovered, exceeding 900 cases per day, he said, adding that the vast majority of these infections are from the labour category, and concentrated in industrial areas and elsewhere in the workers' housing in different areas of Doha.
According to Dr al-Khal, the number of cases began to increase last week, considered the period when the virus entered its peak in Qatar, or what is called (the highest wave), expecting the possibility of continued increasing cases over the coming days before they begin to decrease.
Though most of the infections are among expatriate workers, the rest of the Covid-19 cases are among Qataris, other residents and their family members.
He stressed that the vast majority of the infected about 90% of the cases are mild, and the symptoms they show are similar to those of a cold or a mild flu. Many of them did not have any symptoms and their infection was discovered by examining contacts, which is reassuring as the majority of the injured are mild and can recover within a period of two to three weeks.
In response to a question about the Ministry of Public Health taking new precautionary measures to limit the spread of Covid-19, Dr al-Khal explained that the basis is early tracking of contacts, isolation of infected people and placing contacts under quarantine, which is considered one of the essentials of public health and will be expanded to coincide with the increase of the virus spread to many areas of the country. The ministry has increased the number of teams working day and night to track infections.
He pointed to the work to increase the number of beds allocated for both critical and severe and mild cases. Work is on to increase the capacity and the number of tests related to Covid-19. 

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