Dr. Jameela Al Ajmi, Executive Director, Corporate Infection Prevention at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) says as COVID-19 restrictions in Qatar begin to be lifted, health officials will be relying on the public to help contain the spread of the virus by continuing to adhere to infection prevention measures.
“This virus will be in our world for some time to come and we know that as public health measures and restrictions are lifted, some degree of COVID-19 transmission will be unavoidable; therefore, we must all continue to follow protective measures to help prevent the spread of the virus. We must continue to maintain physical distancing practices, good hand hygiene, and to not leave home if feeling sick. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, get tested,” said Dr. Al Ajmi.
“The public needs to remember that we do not yet have a vaccine or cure, so we must all work together to carefully balance the risks. We must not become complacent in following infection prevention measures. These life-saving practices will be essential to protecting the members of our community who are most likely to experience serious illness should they contract COVID-19,” added Dr. Al Ajmi.
She said restrictions will be lifted slowly, and with control, because the risk of severe illness remains high for some people, such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Dr. Al Ajmi said following infection prevention measures is the responsibility of everyone, but she encourages parents of young children to be especially vigilant in ensuring they adhere to infection prevention practices.
“The data seems to indicate that children are less affected by COVID-19 but they may still fall ill and they can be powerful carriers of the virus. Children are generally less compliant with effective hand hygiene, and the concept of social distancing can be challenging for younger children to understand. As we begin to see a lifting of restrictions, parents should reinforce the importance of regular hand-washing and proper respiratory etiquette, such as covering coughs and sneezes. It is also important for parents to reinforce ‘no sharing’ policies and to help children understand the need for social distancing and to avoid kissing or hugging, especially when spending time with more vulnerable persons, such as grandparents or a sick family member,” said Dr. Al Ajmi.
She said the government is working on a range of guidance documents that will provide the public with specific advice around the lifting of existing restrictions but says until we have a vaccine, human behavior will continue to be the most important tactic in mitigating the risk of transmission.
“A gradual and phased approach will help people get used to changes in the way we gather and move, but the public must continue to be thoughtful about their actions and act within the rules. Be respectful of each other’s space and be prepared for things to be different. Remember that each decision you take affects the well-being of others. We all have a role to play in protecting each other, especially our vulnerable and high-risk populations,” said Dr. Al Ajmi.
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