Health Minister presents Qatar’s strategy to contain spread of COVID-19 to WHO officials
H E Dr Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Minister of Public Health, provided officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) with an overview of Qatar’s strategy to contain and curb the spread of COVID-19, which has focused heavily on contact tracing to isolate, test, and treat as part of breaking the chain of transmission. Qatar has received global recognition for its efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic due to having one of the lowest mortality rates in the world.
During the virtual meeting, which was the third public dialogue session convened by the WHO, H E Dr. Al Kuwari also highlighted Qatar’s international COVID-19 aid efforts, which has seen the country sending medical equipment and supplies to several countries, including China, Iran, Italy, Spain, USA, Lebanon, Tunisia, Algeria, Rwanda, and Nepal and providing financial support to the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. Qatar has also aided refugee camps in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.
“To date, over 94,000 people in Qatar have been tested for COVID-19. Our testing strategy has focused heavily on contact testing/tracing, which has allowed us to identify a larger number of cases, including those who are asymptotic, as part of a strategy to limit the spread of the disease. Not only does this strategy save lives by stopping the spread of the virus, but it also allows us to treat people earlier and to take proactive steps to prevent complications associated with any existing medical conditions,” the Minister said.
“This approach results in a higher number of positive cases, as we can identify clusters, but it is why we have a very low COVID-19 mortality rate and have had a very low number of patients who require ICU care and hospitalization,” explained H E Dr. Al Kuwari.
The containment strategy appears to be working with the majority of positive cases in Qatar thus far having presented with a very mild disease (91%), with only around 1% requiring treatment in an ICU and 8% requiring hospitalization. To date, the country has recorded ten deaths, with the majority of these patients have co-morbidities.
Five hospitals, including two newly opened hospitals in Mesaieed and Ras Laffan, have been designated as dedicated COVID-19 treatment facilities, and the country is collaborating with local, regional, and international partners, including the WHO, on a variety of COVID-19 guidelines and care solutions. In addition to a comprehensive screening and testing strategy, which has seen the establishment of quarantine hotels and isolation facilities with over 30,000 beds, the country has taken a whole-government approach and launched a mobile tracing application, implemented extensive social distancing measures, and spearheaded a multi-language, multi-platform public education campaign.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in radical changes to the way medicine is delivered. We have re-purposed existing resources and facilities and have rapidly expanded capacity by 2,900 new hospital beds, including 700 new ICU beds. We have established contingency plans that will enable us to redeploy manpower from other parts of the healthcare system,” said Her Excellency Dr. Al Kuwari.
“Most outpatient care is now being provided virtually, through telemedicine visits, and we have introduced a number of new services, including an urgent care telephone consultation service, a drive-thru blood coagulation clinic, and a medicine delivery service. We are trying to ensure our most vulnerable citizens are protected while ensuring optimal care for all patients, especially the seriously ill,” added Her Excellency Dr. Al Kuwari.
Source: The Peninsula Qatar