Friday, May 29, 2020

National Taskforce for Combating Coronavirus highlights measures taken to mitigate spread of COVID-19

The National Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19) held a press conference at the Crown Prince Centre for Training and Medical Research at the Bahrain Defence Force Hospital to highlight measures taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Mohammed Ali Al Qaed, Information and eGovernment Authority (iGA) Chief Executive, began by underlining the contributions made by the iGA to the Kingdom’s comprehensive COVID-19 mitigation efforts, led by HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister. These efforts include the utilisation of technologies to support remote work and education, as well as the launch of the ‘BeAware’ application.

Al Qaed noted that the application uses location data to alert individuals in the event they approach an active case or a location an active case has visited, track movement of quarantine cases for a duration of 14 days, as well as publish health recommendations and highlight global COVID-19 developments. ‘BeAware’ is currently monitoring 2,273 self-isolation cases via e-bracelets and has monitored 5,123 cases so far, as well as distributing 4,194 e-bracelets.

Al Qaed went on to add that the iGA has added a new feature to the application, allowing citizens and residents to schedule their end-of-isolation swab. 3,519 of the total 8,404 swabs have been scheduled via the application, while 4,885 have been scheduled over the phone.

To date, ‘BeAware’ has identified 1,879 contacts of active cases, alerted 1,807 individuals of their close proximity to an active case, scheduled COVID-19 tests for 1,584 individuals, and identified 227 active cases, 36 of whom are Bahrainis while the rest are expatriate workers. A total of 545,000 downloads and 343,072 registrations have been recorded to date, a clear indication of the public’s awareness of its important role in the preservation of public health.

Al Qaed highlighted that ‘BeAware’ is in line with the directives issued by HM the King to develop a comprehensive national plan to ensure that Bahrain embraces the digital economy, by adopting and employing artificial intelligence technologies.

Alongside ‘BeAware’, the iGA has supported the Kingdom’s transition to online government services, which include legal services, the launch of an integrated ID package by the Ministry of Interior, increasing the issuances of online birth certificates by 310%, a driving licencing support programme, as well as support programmes for job seekers and humanitarian causes.

Dr. Waleed Khalifa Al Manea, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Health, noted that following the directives of HRH the Crown Prince, the capacity at isolation centres have been expanded to reach 4,257 beds and 5,489 beds at quarantine centres, of which 3,330 and 515 beds are occupied, respectively.

Dr. Waleed reiterated that compliance with health recommendations is a personal and social responsibility that is of utmost importance to overcoming the challenges posed by the global pandemic, adding that noncompliance by some has increased the number of active cases.

Lt. Col. Manaf Al Qahtani, Infectious Disease Consultant & Microbiologist at the BDF Hospital and member of the National Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus, highlighted the ways in which citizens and residents can safely transport an active or suspected COVID-19 case.

Al Qahtani explained that in the event of using your own personal car: the driver and passenger must wear a mask, sit as far as possible from each other, open the windows for ventilation, with the driver’s window half-open while the rear window must be fully open. Additionally, it is urged to operate the fan only, to turn off air recirculation, drive directly to the destination, and disinfect the car and yourself upon arrival to the destination.

Al Qahtani explained that in the event added that in the event of using public transportation: bus drivers and passengers must wear a face mask, open the windows for ventilation, leave a seat between each passenger, keep distance between suspected and active cases, and disinfect the bus upon arrival to the destination.

Dr. Jameela Al Salman, Consultant of Infectious and Internal Diseases at Salmaniya Medical Complex, reviewed the health status of active cases, confirming 3,330 cases, of which 5 are critical. Dr. Al Salman also confirmed 2,192 cases have recovered.

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