*All eight coronavirus cases are stable

The risk of infection from the new coronavirus (Covid-19) remains very low in Qatar and all the confirmed cases so far are in stable condition, a senior official from Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has assured.

“Currently, eight confirmed cases have been reported by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH). All of these have been imported and acquired outside Qatar, in Iran. All patients have been admitted to the Communicable Diseases Center and all are in stable condition,” Dr Jameela al-Ajmi, senior consultant and executive director, Corporate Infection Control and Prevention, HMC, told Gulf Times.

Dr al-Ajmi also noted that though Covid-19 continues to spread around the globe, the risk of infection from the disease remains very low in Qatar.

“So, in spite of increase in the number of cases in the last few days, we can reassure the community that if you have not travelled to a country where Covid-19 is spreading, and have not been in contact with an infected patient, your risk of infection is low. We would highly recommend the public to take care of their health and protect others by following the basic infection control measures,” advised Dr al-Ajmi.

The official highlighted that it is very important to understand that people don’t need to wear a mask as there is no evidence that wearing masks will protect healthy people from contamination. However, following the infection prevention practice will protect them from most respiratory illness including Covid-19.

She noted that MoPH has adopted very robust measures of preparedness and has a response plan to contain the virus.

“Measures such as thermal screening procedures at Hamad International Airport and sea ports are in place for all passengers entering Doha from other countries to identify and isolate immediately any passenger with symptoms suggestive of Covid-19. MoPH has established accommodation facilities for those people who meet the quarantine standards and all of our healthcare workers have been trained on infection prevention and control,” said the official.

“Health protection and communicable disease control teams have been engaged in regular active surveillance visits to hospitals to ensure that no suspected cases are missed. Additionally, a community awareness campaign has been delivered through different national websites, TV, radio, social media and other channels,” highlighted Dr al-Ajmi

According to the official, people need to follow some of the infection prevention practices such as regularly cleaning the hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.

Other precautionary measures are maintaining at least 1m (3ft) distance with anyone who is coughing or sneezing because when someone coughs or sneezes they spray droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain the virus. “If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the Covid-19 virus, if the person coughing has the disease,” she noted.

“Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth as your hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick. Follow good respiratory hygiene by covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately as this will protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and Covid-19,” she explained .

“Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Call the hotline on 16000 for all inquiries. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” she added.

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