WATCH: Gradual lifting of COVID-19 restrictions to take place after Eid Al-Fitr: Dr. Al-Khal
According to Dr. Abdul Latif Al-Khal, Co-chair of the National Epidemic Preparation Committee, the current precautionary measures in place have succeeded in curbing the spread of the virus in the region.
This came in the press conference held today by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on the developments of the coronavirus in the State of Qatar.
Dr. Al-Khal explained that there is still the concern of whether the country will witness a rise in the number of new cases after Eid Al-Fitr, regardless of seeing a substantial drop in the number of cases over time.
He also thanked the community for its efforts in helping the country tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the restrictions in place have fostered the acceleration of COVID-19 vaccination.
As of now, over 1.7 million people in the State of Qatar have received the vaccine thanks to the efforts of the COVID-19 vaccination program.
Dr. Al Khal also pointed out that the presence of new COVID-19 strains in Qatar continues to pose a threat and requires the community to continue to adhere to the precautionary measures in place.
Returning travelers now make up a larger proportion of the total daily cases as community cases decline.
“Our quarantine policy for anyone entering Qatar has been one of the strictest of its kind in the world and proved to be effective in detecting those infected and quickly isolating them and at delaying the introduction of new variants into Qatar,” said Dr. Al-Khal.
“Qatar is among the top 10 countries in the world in terms of vaccine coverage for the size of its population,” he added.
Furthermore, the COVID-19 vaccination is 97.4 percent effective in preventing severe, critical, or fatal diseases against both the UK and South African variants.
This was confirmed through a study conducted here in Qatar and published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The promising results of the study would mean that Qatar can potentially return towards normal life once 80 to 90 percent of the eligible population have been vaccinated.
The press conference also highlighted the gradual lifting of the current COVID-19 restriction through four phases, with the first phase taking effect on May 28, 2021.
The date of the first phase was announced taking into factor the possibility of a potential spike in COVID-19 cases post Eid al-Fitr, providing sufficient time to analyze the data and determine its impact.
The second, third and fourth phase is set to take place this year on June 18, July 9 and July 30 respectively.
Individuals who have already received the vaccine will be able to take advantage of more services and given more privileges before others.
Dr. Al-Khal urges the public to be patient as it is important that Qatar does not claim this victory too early.
Moreover, he pointed out that the new and highly transmissible variants in the community can potentially contribute to a spike in COVID-19 cases.
“For the past 15 months we have lived under the threat of COVID-19 – this virus has negatively impacted the lives of each and every one of us in some way, either directly or indirectly. It is important to acknowledge how much we have achieved and how much we have sacrificed to get this virus under control,” said Dr. Al-Khal.
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