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Coronavirus: Qatar surpasses UAE in number of infections, now second highest in Gulf

Published: Updated:

Qatar reported on Thursday 845 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in the country up to 13,409 cases. The small gulf nation overtook the UAE as the country with the second highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Gulf, after Saudi Arabia.

Qatar is one of the smallest countries in the Middle East, with a population of approximately 2.8 million as of March 2020. It now has the second highest number of COVID-19 confirmed cases among Arab countries.

“Most of the new cases registered are due to expatriate workers in different occupations who have been in contact with previously discovered cases, as well as recording new cases of COVID-19 among groups of workers from outside the industrial area who were identified through testing by the Ministry of Public Health.”

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The remainder of the new infections were citizens and residents who have contracted the virus from members of their families, who in turn had contracted the virus through their workplaces or other places where they had been exposed to infected people, the ministry added.

The Ministry of Public Health said: “The noticeable increase in the number of confirmed new cases of coronavirus is due to several reasons, including that the spread of the virus has entered its peak where numbers are expected to continue to increase before they begin to gradually decline.”

The ministry also reported the recovery of 129 coronavirus patients over the past 24 hours, raising the total number of recovered patients up to 1,372.

“To date, over 94,000 people in Qatar have been tested for COVID-19. Our testing strategy has focused heavily on contact testing/tracing, which has allowed us to identify a larger number of cases, including those who are asymptotic, as part of a strategy to limit the spread of the disease,” said Dr. Hanan al-Kuwari, Minister of Public Health.

The majority of COVID-19 cases in Qatar presented with “very mild” symptoms, at 91 percent, with eight percent requiring hospitalization and one percent requiring treatment in an intensive care unit (ICU), al-Kuwari added.

Qatar uses two types of COVID-19 tests, the Chairwoman of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Hamad Medical Corporation, Dr. Einas al-Kuwari said.

“PCR molecular test: the gold standard test using a swab of the back of the mouth and the top of the nose to determine if someone is COVID-19 positive. And the serological test: using a finger prick, this test delivers rapid results and confirms if someone has been exposed to COVID-19 previously, but does not determine if they are COVID-19 positive,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the National Strategic Group on COVID-19, Dr. Abdullatif al-Khal said that while preventative measures such as social distancing have not stopped the spread of the virus, but they have reduced the speed of the spread.

“Life will return to normal as soon as it is safe to do so, but this will be a gradual return. Only when we are certain that we are past the peak of the virus in Qatar can we begin to consider removing some of the restrictions that are currently in place,” al-Khal added.

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