*Heath departments fully prepared to detect the virus and to prevent the epidemic- MoPH Director
The Ministry of Public Health revealed that the results of a laboratory examination that was conducted on 25 persons suspected to be infected with coronavirus showed 23 of them were free of the virus. The results of the remaining two cases will be available later on Sunday.
Ministry officials said in a press conference on Sunday that the suspected persons were those coming from China and they had registered with the authorities during the period since the coronavirus appeared in China on January 7 until now.
Director of Public Health at the Ministry of Public Health Sheikh Dr. Mohammed Bin Hamad Al-Thani stated in the press conference, that Qatar is monitoring the situation and stressed that the health sector in the country is ready to deal with all the developments related to the disease.
He added the coronavirus cases around the world are increasing daily according to the World Health Organization. 12,000 cases and 260 deaths were officially registered worldwide. But the disease is more prevalent in China and the death rate from this virus remains less than that from other viruses. He emphasized that while deaths from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) were almost one third of the diagnosed cases and the death rate from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) was 10 percent, the death rate for coronavirus epidemic is seen to be only 2.2 percent of those infected.
Sheikh Dr. Mohammed Bin Hamad Al-Thani expressed the hope that the disease will decline around the world soon, especially as many airlines have already suspended their flights to China as a precautionary measure, in addition to the support that China has started to receive from the World Health Organization and other countries in fighting the disease.
He explained that the cases recorded outside China are not many. Only 70 cases were so far reported in Europe, America and Asia, which indicates that the disease is more deadly when transmitted from animals to humans, while it is less dangerous when transmitted from one person to another, which is reassuring.
The Director of Public Health renewed the call made by the Ministry of Public Health to avoid traveling to China stressing that though there is no travel ban for China, it is preferable not visit the country for the time being.
He stressed that the thermal detection devices at Hamad International Airport will continue to screen passengers from China through tracking airlines other than Qatar Airways, which has already suspended China flights.
In the press conference, Head of the Infectious Diseases Division Dr. Abdullatif Mohamed Al Khal explained the procedures implemented by the Ministry and the health sector in the country to deal with the virus.
He said that the Ministry of Public Health has established protocols to deal with suspected cases and isolation measures, as it has allocated several resources to implement these measures, the most important of which is communicating with the public and workers in both public and private health sectors periodically.
Dr. Al Khal added that Hamad's Communicable Disease Center was approved to receive any suspected or diagnosed cases due to the great capabilities available in this specialized hospital, especially in terms of isolation rooms, treatment techniques and the availability of medical personnel trained in dealing with infectious diseases.
He also indicated that the Pandemic Preparedness Committee, which includes representatives from the Ministry of Public Health, Hamad Medical Corporation, Primary Health Care Corporation, Hamad International Airport, Qatar Airways and other partners, is constantly monitoring the situation and implementing the necessary procedures and precautions in order to diagnose cases that can enter the State of Qatar.
He explained that Hamad Medical Corporation has set up a laboratory to detect the virus early, as the Corporation was proactive in obtaining laboratory tools and testing equipment from international bodies with the aim of conducting virus tests as quickly as possible to get the results within 24 hours.
He pointed out that the Hamad Medical Corporation, with the support of the Ministry of Public Health, currently has sufficient quantities of masks, gloves and other protective clothing, to meet the needs of the State and additional quantities will be imported soon, but he added that the most important thing now is to follow the procedures and detect cases early, in addition to the isolation of patients and tracing out their contacts.
Dr. Al Khal stressed the importance of avoiding traveling to China now, calling on travelers returning from China to monitor their health for two weeks, in terms of body temperature and coughing, and go to the health department immediately if these symptoms appear.
He stressed that there is no evidence so far that the goods and packages coming from China are a source of infection, according to what the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed, but it is generally recommended to wash hands well after dealing with those goods.
For his part, Dr Khalid Alawad from the Primary Health Care Corporation said that since the announcement of the disease in China, the Corporation has notified medical staff of the necessary procedures for suspected cases and how to transfer them to the relevant medical authorities.
He pointed out that the cases they are currently focusing on are those coming from China within 14 days, adding that the symptoms of the new virus are similar to the symptoms of influenza. He emphasized the readiness of all health centers to deal with cases and to transfer them to the medical authorities who will complete the necessary procedures.
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