How to get tested for COVID-19 in Qatar
As in the case of any disease, early detection of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) can play a pivotal role in timely treatment and appropriate care.
In recent weeks, Qatar has upped the number of dedicated COVID-19 testing centers as well as introduced drive-through testing facilities in a bid to control the spread of the virus, manage the outbreak, facilitate early detection, and prevent disease progression.
As of now, over 236,000 have been tested for COVID-19 in Qatar. The country is able to run as many as 5,000 tests every day.
Although officials have highlighted that majority of the COVID-19 patients in Qatar experience mild, flu-like symptoms, there are several individuals who have been asymptomatic, meaning they did not present any symptoms of infection.
Delay in testing can cause complications, an HMC official highlighted earlier this week.
If you experience any concerning symptoms or you think you may have been exposed to a person with COVID-19, the below information will be useful.
One of the Ministry of Public Health's (MoPH) first responses to the COVID-19 crisis was setting up a dedicated hotline for the public. The hotline - 16000 - was introduced to answer public queries regarding the disease.
The toll-free hotline is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is available in Arabic and English.
The Ministry urges individuals who display symptoms of COVID-19 to quickly contact the helpline or go directly to one of the designated health centers.
What happens when you call the hotline?
You will be asked for your name and about the symptoms you're experiencing. Once you've done that and depending on your symptoms, the call may be transferred to a medical doctor. The doctor will ask you to explain your symptoms.
You will then be asked about which neighborhood you live in. The doctor will then advise on the nearest testing center you can go to.
Once you go to the health center (HC) you've been asked to go to, the security may ask for your health card.
You can not request to be tested for COVID-19 at the center. This is something that the medical professionals at the center will determine once they have assessed your symptoms.
When you go to the health center, you might be asked to wait a while. Once you enter the facility, there will be a specific spot that the HC staff will ask you to stand on. A nurse will ask you for your symptoms and then may take your temperature.
After analyzing your symptoms, the medical staff will inform you if you are eligible for testing. If it is confirmed you need to go ahead with testing, you might be asked to wait for some time.
Once you are called in for testing, you will be lead to a room where medical doctors will ask some questions, including if you've been in contact with anyone who had COVID-19.
Following this, the staff will perform a swab of your mouth and of your nose. This will involve inserting a long stick that looks like cotton buds into your nose and mouth. The swabs are then taken away securely for laboratory testing.
Once this is done, you will be asked to sign a waiver confirming that you will not disable or delete the Ehteraz application. The application should be running on your mobile phone all the time.
When you are awaiting results the color 'Grey' will be displayed on your Ehteraz app. If you are tested positive, the color on the application would turn to 'Red.' If you were healthy and virus-free, the color would change from 'Grey' to 'Green.'
You will later receive a message from Hamad Medical Corporation with your details regarding your test results. You may also receive a call
If you are tested positive, you will be moved to an isolation facility or a designated treatment center depending on your symptoms. The relevant authorities will guide you accordingly.
Designated Testing Centers
The four main testing centers for COVID-19 include:
The centers are operated by Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC).
Drive-through Swabbing Hubs
Qatar this week launched three drive-through swabbing hubs at three different PHCC health centers. These include:
- Al Thumama Health Center
- Al Waab Health Center
- Leabaib Health Center
This service is only for those individuals who receive a phone call from PHCC to book an appointment depending on their eligibility. The elderly and those at higher risk of the virus are given priority.
- Get a phone call to book appointment
- Appointment confirmation via text message
- Arrive at the designated health center in your own vehicle
- You will be asked a few verification questions upon arrival
- Nose and throat swab
- Home quarantine until results are received (for those in contact with COVID-19 patients only)
- You will get your result on your phone
- Advice on any follow-up action required
There are two kinds of COVID-19 tests currently being conducted in Qatar.
The PCR Molecular test, and the Serological test.
PCR molecular test is the gold standard test using a swab of the back of the mouth and the top of the nose to determine if the person is infected with COVID-19.
The serological test uses a finger prick. This test delivers rapid results and confirms if someone has been exposed to COVID-19 previously. However, this test does not determine if the individual is COVID-19 positive.
Qatar's Testing Strategy
Provided for people who come to a healthcare setting and display COVID-19 symptoms.
Public health testing:
Contact tracing - this is where anyone who has had contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive is tested.
Random sampling - where a sample population area is chosen and people randomly tested. This provides a better understanding of how widespread the virus is.
People returning from abroad:
This has helped successfully identify people coming into the country who are COVID-19 positive. HMC's laboratory has significantly increased the number of tests it is able to do each day as well as reducing the time it takes to process test results.
Meanwhile, health authorities in Qatar continue to implement the highest level of monitoring, detection, and management procedures to deal with the virus, the public has been advised to follow certain measures to safeguard their health.
For any queries, or concerns related to COVID-19 in Qatar, the public can contact a 24/7 hotline set up by the Ministry. The hotline number is 16000 and is toll-free.
Here's everything you need to know about the virus, including ways to protect yourself.
Make sure to check out our social media to keep track of the latest content.
Instagram - @qatarliving
Twitter - @qatarliving
Facebook - Qatar Living