What the Qatari Government is Doing to Slow the COVID-19 Outbreak
According to the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), as of today, 452 people in Qatar have tested positive for COVID-19. To help slow the spread of the virus, the ministry is working alongside various other governmental bodies, implementing crucial measures and asking residents to play their part in making positive changes for the benefit of all who live in Qatar.
In this post, we’re going to look at the various preventative measures put in place by the government, as well as what you can do to help keep yourself and those around you safe.
For the good of the community, the MoPH asks that you:
- Practise good hand hygiene: Wash your hands frequently, or use hand sanitiser when soap and water is not available.
- Keep your distance: Stay at least one metre (three feet) from those who have symptoms of illness.
- Cough and sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue: Dispose of used tissue appropriately.
- Avoid crowds: Avoid crowded places and postpone social gatherings.
- Stay indoors if you are elderly or immunosuppressed: Elderly people and those with chronic health conditions should stay at home unless absolutely necessary.
- Avoid any unnecessary travel: Unless you absolutely need to travel, postpone travel arrangements for now.
MoPH Taking Action
Here are some of the measures the MoPH has implemented to combat and curb the spread of COVID-19:
- It is utilising all available resources to prevent the spread of the virus, including detection devices, laboratories, and trained field teams. As of today, a total of 8,547 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Qatar.
- Working with the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC), the MoPH has transformed the Muaither Health Centre (HC) into its COVID-19 testing facility. Services previously carried out at the Muaither HC have been transferred elsewhere.
- Its investigations teams are working around the clock to investigate cases. As soon as new cases are discovered, they are moved into quarantine at the designated hospital, where they receive necessary medical care.
- It is providing advice and information via the MoPH website and its social media accounts. It also has a dedicated page on its website featuring educational materials and videos, which is regularly updated.
- Its Coronavirus Contact Centre is accessible 24/7 for any reports or enquiries regarding the virus via the toll-free phone number (16000).
As of Wednesday 18 March, only Qatari nationals will be allowed to enter the State of Qatar until further notice. Those transiting on flights via Doha may transit through Qatar on the way to their final destination.
With a previous travel ban in place, the Ministry of Administrative Labour and Social Affairs advised that expats denied entry to Qatar would be allowed back into the country once the ban is lifted, even if their Qatar IDs have expired or if they have stayed more than six months out of Qatar.
Hamad International Airport has measures in place to screen passengers upon arrival, and treat suspected cases. Passengers who show fever and respiratory symptoms are transferred to the Communicable Disease Centre (CDC), to complete necessary checks and provide the appropriate treatment.
Goods & Services
According to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI), it is working to ensure the supply of goods and services remains uninterrupted in Qatar. It is also continuing to carry out inspection campaigns to control prices.
Under the National Food Security Strategy, the ministry is working within a pre-defined plan to ensure the continued flow of goods, services, food and subsidised products. It is also working to ensure medical facilities remain stocked with masks, gloves and sterilisers.
Major hypermarkets have made assurances that they have sufficient supplies of the essentials, and are encouraging shoppers not to engage in panic buying. Online orders provide an alternative way for shoppers to buy what they need from home.
All schools and universities in Qatar are temporarily closed.
Entertainment & Events
To discourage people from gathering in public places, all cinemas, theatres, gyms, wedding venues and children’s play areas have been closed until further notice, and all workshops and other such public events have been cancelled.
The MOCI also recently announced that the serving of food in restaurants and cafés is banned, however delivery requests can still be made. Meanwhile, the Qatar National Tourism Council has decided to temporarily close all clubs and bars as a precautionary measure.
The following is a list of some of the most notable closures in Qatar:
- Multaqa (Education City Student Centre) is closed to the public, with all sports and community activities and programs suspended.
- Qatar National Library is closed to the public, however, users are encouraged to access the QNL Online Resources, which remain fully accessible.
- Oxygen Park and Al Shaqab are closed to the public. Service on the Education City Tram is suspended until further notice.
- Qatar Museums (QM) has closed all museums and heritage sites to visitors until further notice. All museum shops, cafes and restaurants and the National Museum of Qatar playground are also closed.
The Ministry of Transport and Communications has announced the suspension of the Doha Metro, Metrolink and public transit bus service over the weekend. These services are to resume during weekdays.
Qatar Rail has also suspended its services over weekends.
Many Qatari businesses have closed their offices, protecting their employees by allowing them to work remotely, while still continuing with day-to-day operations. Fusion is one such company. To find out more about this, check out our post on the topic.
Qatar Overall Impact
Being blockaded by several countries (that have all announced coronavirus cases) has been terms a “blessing in disguise” since the embargo began in 2017, as it forced the country to be more self-sufficient. While there is no escaping the negative outcome of a global outbreak epidemic, I believe that the blockade has never been more of a blessing than during this pandemic as it limits the spread of the virus due to the border closures. Economically, there will be near term pain but Qatar has the tools and resources to see out these difficult, and has already gained valuable crisis management experience from 2017.
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) has warned against the spreading of rumours and fake news, and has announced it will take legal measures against those found doing so.
It is advised that you should only seek information from reputable sources, and take heart that things will get better in time.
H E Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani stated, “Please know that we are being cautious not out of fear, but out of a sense of responsibility to protect the most vulnerable and to not burden our health services. As a nation, we have proven to be resilient in the past, and I have no doubt that we will come out of this even stronger.”