Doha, 17 March, 2020: Amid the healthcare sector’s ongoing measures to combat coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Qatar, Her Excellency Dr. Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Minister of Public Health, met this morning with staff at Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology (DLMP).
Her Excellency Dr. Al Kuwari said the State of Qatar has appropriately prioritized diagnostic testing and supported the laboratory response network to ensure the ability to test for potential cases of COVID-19, which is allowing for the better protection of the population.
As of 17 March, almost 8,400 people in Qatar have been tested for COVID-19. The State’s proactive program of testing means Qatar has one of the highest testing rates in the world.
Her Excellency explained that Qatar is committed to being open and transparent throughout the testing process, and that data is now regularly published on the website of the Ministry of Public Health.
She said 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. Her Excellency said HMC’s DLMP is an essential part of Qatar’s COVID-19 preparedness and response plan.
Explaining the COVID-19 testing process, Dr. Ajayeb Al Nabet, Chairperson of the DLMP said: “Very early on we quickly mobilized 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 specialized laboratory services for the people in Qatar,” added Dr. Al Nabet.
The DLMP’s extensive laboratory network has been accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) since 2014. The international body provides the world’s most recognized laboratory accreditation program, which is considered the global gold standard for laboratory management.
The Ministry of Public Health 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 traveled to countries affected by coronavirus, or had contact with an infected person, in the last 14 days should immediately call the MoPH hotline.
The MoPH has stated that people should five follow basic infection control practices to protect themselves and others from the spread of COVID-19.
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, particularly after touching objects when you are outside or after shaking hands
- Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze, and dispose used tissues
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with your hands
- Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illnesses
- If you experience symptoms including cough, sneezing, and fever, limit your contact with other people