Posted on April 02, 2020

Qatar is moving in the right direction to flatten the COVID-19 curve and country has the capacity to test around 2,000 samples in a day, said a senior official at the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH). 

The Ministry has taken measures to introduce a more accurate test for COVID-19, which is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said Sheikh Dr. Mohammed Al Thani, Director of Public Health at MoPH, while speaking at a webinar organised by Qatar Foundation. “At present with laboratory techniques and facility we can do around 2000 tests per day,” he said. “We are doing PCR tests now which have over 99 percent accuracy. There is also demand for rapid test and we have discussed it. With rapid test we can have more number of tests but accuracy of the tests is lower and in some cases it is very low. However, we are planning to get the best available rapid test kits mostly from South Korea. So we will soon introduce a rapid test which is approved by FDA,” he added.

Dr. Al Thani also said that MoPH is looking forward to build the capacity for COVID-19 sample testing in collaboration with several other institutions. “We have requested cooperation from Sidra Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar and Qatar University for further cooperation in clinical testing. Some students from Weill Cornell Medicine- Qatar have agreed to join and we are waiting for response from Qatar University,” he added. 

Dr. Al Thani was the keynote speaker at the latest edition of the Research Outcome Seminar series — an initiative of Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) of QF. The webinar focused on how researchers in Qatar and beyond are developing new ways to reduce the spread of communicable diseases and directly address the health risks they create. Dr. Al Thani said that Qatar has implemented a strong surveillance system to trace and diagnose people with COVID-19 and those who are at the risk of developing the disease. 

“We isolate every person who is infected with COVID-19 and trace those who have been in contact with them. Among them, some are sick but the condition is not severe. Some of them are mild cases. We have accommodated them in a complex which has about 1500 bed capacity,” he said. “We have tested more than 20,000 people for COVID-19, the numbers are increasing because of the surveillance and best early diagnosis methods we have in the country,” said Dr. Al Thani. He emphasised on the measures taken by Qatar Airways and Hamad International Airport to control the spread of COVID-19. “Majority of Qataris who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 have travel history,” he added. 

Dr. Al Thani, in the keynote address, focused on ‘The corona disease contemporary knowledge and updates worldwide,’ with an emphasis on Qatar. He highlighted about COVID-19’s impact on healthcare systems, economies, and how countries can move forward with research in diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics. He highlighted the important decisions taken and implemented in Qatar in response to COVID-19. “The present situation may continue for months, we in Qatar are trying to make a balance between keeping people safe and keep things moving,” said Dr. Al Thani. 

Other speakers at the webinar presented the outcomes of their research projects. 

source: The Peninsula