Due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Qatar, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) are now implementing a stricter visitor policy for all hospitals in Qatar.

According to their latest announcement, visitors will no longer be allowed to enter any of the seven COVID-19 facilities in Qatar namely: Al Wakra Hospital, Hazm Mebaireek General Hospital, Communicable Disease Center, The Cuban Hospital, Ras Laffan Hospital, Mesaieed Hospital and the Surgical Specialty Center. HMC said this is part of its measures to protect patients, visitors and healthcare staff from COVID-19.

Visitations in all non-COVID-19 facilities in the country will also be limited from 3 pm to 8 pm daily. Visitors are also required to display a Green Ehteraz status, wear a mask and undergo a temperature check before entry. Only one visitor is allowed at a time for a maximum of 15 minutes, with a maximum of three visitors during public visiting hours. Escort is also not allowed.

Food, flowers, drinks, and chocolates will not be permitted inside the facilities. Children under 15 years old are also not permitted to visit.

Dr Nasser Al Ansari, Head of Infection Control at Al Wakra Hospital said the rising severity of COVID-19 cases in Qatar led to increased numbers of people being admitted to hospitals.

To manage this increased demand for hospital beds, HMC has designated seven facilities to provide care for patients with COVID-19 and our policy means that no visitors are allowed to these facilities, while all other facilities are operating a restricted visitor policy. These changes have been implemented for the safety and protection of our patients, visitors and staff and we kindly ask members of the public to adhere to the policies while we fight the second wave of the virus in Qatar.

PHCC health centres and medical teams are at the forefront of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Program and with staff working round the clock administering vaccines, in addition to continuity of providing all urgent and essential health care services, the provision of COVID-19 PCR swabs for people travelling abroad was also transferred to private healthcare facilities.

Dr Samya Al Abdulla, Executive Director of Operations at PHCC explained that their healthcare teams are working hard to administer COVID-19 vaccines in all 27 primary health centres, as well as at Qatar National Convention Center, seven days a week. Additionally, PHCC staff are providing COVID-19 track and trace services, swabs for suspected cases, close contacts, and anyone showing signs and symptoms of the virus.

With the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Qatar, our healthcare staff are under enormous pressure. The decision to temporary stop providing PCR swabs for people travelling abroad in primary health centres has been made to ensure we prioritise our resources on providing services for people with COVID-19 and for those being vaccinated as well as continue to provide essential primary care services and walk-in urgent care in our health centres. Accordingly, the provision of COVID-19 PCR swabs for people travelling abroad is transferred to the private healthcare sector except for Qatari nationals who are traveling abroad for essential medical treatment and Qatari students who are studying abroad. When the second wave is suppressed and pressure is eased on our healthcare teams, we will recommence this important service at our health centers.

Last week, the Cabinet announced a decision to stop all non-emergency services at private healthcare facilities from 1 April as part of the COVID-19 response. The decision was said to provide a boost to the public healthcare sector as private healthcare staff will be freed up from their normal roles and redeployed into COVID-19 support roles within HMC and PHCC.

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