Is Another Lockdown Coming Or Will Vaccinations and Restrictions Save the Day?
Another possible lockdown looms in Qatar because of the rising number in COVID-19 cases.
A health official has called for a full lockdown to stem the spread of COVID-19 as the country continues to report an increasing number of infections on a daily basis.
Dr Ahmed Al Mohammed, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) senior consultant and acting chairman of the HMC Intensive Care Units, said that a full lockdown – such as that seen in the country last summer – is the best way to stem the spread of the virus.
As long as people continue to interact with one another, attend workplaces and gather at events, the virus will continue to spread. We did not witness such numbers at the peak of the first wave.
During an interview on Qatar TV, Dr Al Mohammed stated that Qatar is witnessing a peak in the number of cases since the first wave, including a large number of infections among children under the age of 14. Even during the peak of the pandemic last year, Qatar did not have as many cases in intensive care, he said.
The number of cases in the intensive care units in February was 53. We now have more than 300 cases. Look at the jump [in the number of cases] over the past few months. Even during the peak of the pandemic last year, we didn’t have that many cases in intensive care.
To put this into perspective, at the peak of the first wave in May 2020, we had about 220 patients in intensive care. It is clear that people are becoming sicker and experiencing more severe symptoms in this second wave of the virus.
Important update: New restrictions to come into force on Friday 2 April concerning private health facilities
Lower age eligibility
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has announced that it has lowered the age threshold for COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to 40 years old. This means that the current priority groups for COVID-19 vaccinations are as follows:
- People 40 years and older, regardless of health conditions
- People with moderate chronic medical conditions
- Healthcare professionals and other key workers in different ministries and industries, including teachers and administration staff in educational institutions
Over 765,000 doses have already been administered to groups initially identified for the vaccination programme, including older people and frontline workers. Seven out of ten people over the age of 60 have already received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, according to MoPH.
Related update: Pfizer Vaccine Gives 100% Protection for Kids 12 to 15 Years Old
More vaccines, more vaccination centres
The Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) also started administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine earlier in February. Dr Abdullatif Al Khal, Chair of the National Health Strategic Group on COVID-19 and Head of Infectious Diseases at HMC, said that the Moderna vaccine is very similar to the Pfizer and BioNtech vaccine – nearly 95% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infection after two doses.
READ ALSO: The Global Roll Out: Know Your Vaccines
Following the success of Qatar’s first COVID-19 Drive-Through Vaccination Center in Lusail, a second vaccination centre has opened in Al Wakra to further strengthen the National COVID-19 Vaccination Program and boost access to vaccines for people living in Al Wakra and surrounding areas.
The Al Wakra COVID-19 Drive-Through Vaccination Center will operate in the same manner as the Lusail Center, with both facilities catering for people receiving their second dose of either the Pfizer and BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.
Because of the recent availability of larger quantities of vaccines, there has been a significant increase in the pace of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Program. More than 130,000 vaccine doses are being administered weekly in over 35 vaccination sites across Qatar.
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