Posted on March 19, 2020

Amid the healthcare sector’s ongoing measures to combat the coronavirus in Qatar, Minister of Public Health HE Dr Hanan Mohamed al Kuwari met with staff at Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology (DLMP) on Tuesday morning.

The minister said Qatar has appropriately prioritised diagnostic testing and supported the laboratory response network to ensure the ability to test for potential cases of COVID-19. “As of Tuesday, some 8,400 people in Qatar have been tested for COVID-19. The State’s proactive programme of testing means Qatar has one of the highest testing rates in the world,” the minister said. Dr Kuwari said Qatar is committed to being open and transparent throughout the testing process, and data is now regularly published on the website of the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH). She said that local testing capacity is an important step in speeding up the testing process so that the information needed to respond quickly and efficiently is available. HMC’s DLMP is an essential part of Qatar’s COVID-19 preparedness and response plan, the minister added.

Explaining the COVID-19 testing process, Dr Ajayeb al Nabet, chairperson of the DLMP, said: “Very early on we mobilised resources, equipment and staff to rapidly and effectively respond to this issue. HMC’s laboratories now operate round-the-clock in three shifts to process tests for suspected COVID-19 cases. Results are issued at 9am, 5pm and 10pm daily and critical cases can be tested on an individual basis. We are also in the process of introducing new equipment that will enable us to do fully automated, round-the-clock testing that will significantly reduce the length of time it takes to get test results. “The DLMP has a team of highly qualified consultants, scientists and technical staff who have evaluated many systems to ensure we have the best technology required to detect viruses like COVID-19. The DLMP performs over 20.5 million tests each year, providing a comprehensive range of specialised laboratory services for the people in Qatar.”

The DLMP’s extensive laboratory network has been accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) since 2014. The MoPH has set up a dedicated, round-the-clock call center to answer all questions and inquiries related to COVID-19. The hotline number is 16000 and is toll-free. Any resident who experiences fever, cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing, and has travelled to countries affected by coronavirus or had contact with an infected person, in the last 14 days should immediately call the MoPH hotline.

source: Qatar Tribune