COVID-19: Time to be cautious: We all have a role to play

The size and speed of events brought about by COVID-19 this year have been dizzying. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought changes that seemed unthinkable just a few months ago. In January 2020, it seemed unthinkable that the entire white-collar workforce of many countries would soon be working remotely from home. It seemed unthinkable air travel would plummet drastically. Even consulting a physician via video call was unthinkable.

The changes have come so thick and fast that it’s hard to remember just how radical some of them are. In Qatar too, people are heading towards a new normal where they have to live with the COVID-19 restrictions and continue to take precautions.

The COVID-19 Qatar National Response Plan has set clear conditions through the evidence-based, gradual and controlled lifting of restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan to gradually lift COVID-19 restrictions aims to restore normal life while continuing to protect people, society and economy of the country. Restrictions will be lifted in four phases in accordance with a set timetable.

The Ministry of Public Health continues to track and trace every COVID-19 case in the community. As the country is going through a phased of lifting COVID-19 restrictions, health care officials emphasize it is important that people stay vigilant and take precautions against the spread of virus.

“The weekly (COVID-19) infection rate is declining. Though this indicator is reassuring, it does not mean the end of the epidemic as the virus is still present in society,” warned Dr. Abdullatif Al Khal, Co-Chair of the National Pandemic Preparation Committee, while speaking at a press conference recently. “It is essential that people follow all the preventive measures as the restrictions are lifted,” he added.

Health sector officials have also reminded the public to take responsibility at a personal level and adhere to preventive measures during the phased lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

“We all have a role to play, everyone should take responsibility,” Dr Yousef Al Maslamani, Medical Director, Hamad General Hospital (HGH), told The Peninsula.

He also emphasised that it is every individuals’ right that the places they visit apply COVID-19 preventive measures including checking visitors’ health status on the virustracing mobile app, Ehteraz; checking body temperature; use of face masks; and adhering to social distancing. “Protect yourself, protect the family and protect the community from COVID-19,” said Dr Al Maslamani.

Physicians also emphasize that is the time to be cautious and protect those most at risk. “In order to successfully go through the phased lifting of COVID-19 restrictions we should be fully committed to all instructions given by National Pandemic Preparation Committee,” said Dr Ibtism Al Jalahma, Consultant, Family Medicine at Primary Health Care Corporation.

“While going out, especially to crowded places such as shopping malls, people should follow all preventive measures. In case if the body temperature is high, people should abide by the rules and return from the place. “The mask should cover both mouth and nose, keep distance and avoid crowded shops. If the shop is crowded it is advisable to leave and go back on another day,” Dr Al Jalahma told The Peninsula.

The first phase of easing COVID-19 restrictions began on June 15 and the second phase will start from tomorrow. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reminded the public to remain vigilant through Mr Bean’s Essential COVID-19 Checklist. WHO, Project Everyone and Tiger Aspect Productions have partnered to launch a Public Service Announcement (PSA) using global comedy cartoon star, Mr Bean.

“Mr Bean’s Essential COVID-19 Checklist” is a reminder to people about the importance of washing hands, physical distancing and demonstrating kindness to their neighbours.

The PSA features a cartoon sketch of Mr Bean comically tackling a pesky roller blind to finally reveal a number of essential tips to protect people against COVID-19. “COVID-19 affects every walk of human life, and we need to use all tools and avenues at our disposal to share life-saving information with all people around the world. I am grateful for the support of the team behind Mr Bean for lending your voice and talents to spread vital advice on physical distancing, hygiene and knowing the symptoms,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, said recently.

The PSA is voiced by Mr Bean star, Rowan Atkinson, who created the Mr Bean character to be “a child in a grown man’s body” when he was at Oxford University along with filmmaker and Sustainable Development Goal advocate Richard Curtis. Mr Bean, which was originally broadcast in the 1990s before transforming into an animated series, has since expanded on a global scale with 96 million Facebook followers globally and major fanbases across India, Brazil and Indonesia. Mr Bean also celebrates his 30th anniversary in 2020.

The PSA was coordinated by Project Everyone, a not-forprofit agency devised by Richard Curtis working to put the power of communications behind the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“We are delighted to work with the WHO on this Mr Bean sketch and to support health messaging around COVID-19. In 2015, 193 world leaders committed to 17 Global Goals to end poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030. Good Health and Wellbeing is Goal 3 and central to achieving all of the Global Goals. "It’s key that we work with creative partners - and that all sectors come together to continue to get messages out about how we can tackle COVID-19 and build back a better world where the Global Goals remain the guiding plan to be achieved by 2030. I’m not QUITE sure which sector Mr Bean belongs too - but we’re delighted to have him on board,” Richard Curtis said in a WHO newsletter published recently.

As seen on Peninsula Qatar  Image Credits Peninsula Qatar