Qatar has put in place several additional measures to protect the country's population from the new coronavirus, healthcare officials noted on Sunday.
“Since World Health Organisation (WHO) announced about the new virus in China on January 9, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has taken all necessary measures to tighten surveillance in the country, ensuring that people are aware of the situation," said Dr Abdullatif Mohamed al-Khal, head of Infectious Diseases Division at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).
“Healthcare workers were also briefed about the situation and were advised to report suspected cases to take them for necessary laboratory testing. All these measures are in place,” he added.
According to Dr Hamad Eid al-Rumaihi, director, Health Protection and Communicable Diseases at MoPH, the screening at Hamad International Airport (HIA) will continue until the situation is declared under control.
“Passengers at HIA undergo a thermal screening. We have established a clinic at HIA with all facilities such as X-ray and ambulance service. It will continue until the situation becomes normal. Even though Qatar Airways has stopped flights to China, we might screen the people in case any suspected cases are found,” he said.
Dr al-Rumaihi also said that Qatar is trying to assist China. “Depending on the availability of medical supplies in the country, we might try to help China with supplies. However, we will evaluate the situation in the coming days and will take a decision,” he added.
Dr al-Khal said that the surveillance has been very effective. “Healthcare workers have been given a checklist to identify any suspected cases. Those with fever are screened at the airport and if any symptoms are shown, transferred to the Communicable Disease Center (CDC) at HMC. The state-of-the-art CDC has 65 single rooms, with negative air pressure. All the suspected cases will be treated there,” noted Dr al-Khal.
Negative air pressure is used where the goal is to keep any possible contamination from escaping the cleanroom.