The National Medical 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 provide an update on the COVID-19 response in the Kingdom.
At the beginning of the conference, the Undersecretary at the Ministry of Health and Member of the National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19), HE Dr. Waleed Khalifa Al Manea, highlighted the importance of vigilantly following all precautionary measures in light of the prevalence of the highly contagious variant COVID-19 strain. HE Dr. Al Manea noted that despite relentless contact tracing efforts, there has been a rise in active cases and it is a shared responsibility to ensure communities are safeguarded from the virus.
HE Dr. Al Manea emphasised the importance of following all precautionary measures issued by relevant authorities to ensure active cases can be reduced. In this regard, HE Dr. Al Manea noted that the increased rate of infections, which reached 896 cases recorded on 12 February, is a striking escalation from the 114 cases recorded previously on 22 November 2020.
Based on analysis from contact tracing operations involving 300,000 individuals, HE Dr. Al Manea highlighted that a predominant factor explaining the spread of COVID-19 is general complacency and large family gatherings, which has led to not only an increase in cases, but an increase in the number of deaths and patients in intensive care. HE Dr. Al Manea stressed the importance of following all social distancing guidelines by limiting interactions to those living in the same household, and to avoid large family gatherings.
HE Dr. Al Manea further noted that COVID-19 measures are periodically reviewed in order to minimise risk and protect the community, and that the Kingdom remains committed to safeguarding the health and safety of all in the community. In this regard, HE Dr. Al Manea highlighted the introduction of new screening measures for travellers entering the Kingdom of Bahrain, which includes an additional COVID-19 PCR test to be conducted on the 5th day after arrival, totaling three PCR tests, for a reduced total fee of BHD 36.
Turning to occupancy at treatment centres, HE Dr. Al Manea highlighted that the capacity of the Kingdom’s isolation and treatment centres is 5,499 beds, of which 1,750 are occupied, representing 30.2% of capacity. The number of asymptomatic active cases under optional home isolation is 5,789 and the percentage of patients recovered out of total cases has reached 93.05%, while the death rate is 0.55% of total cases.
The Infectious Disease Consultant & Microbiologist at the BDF Hospital and member of the National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Lt. Col. Manaf Al Qahtani, highlighted the importance of receiving the vaccination, which will ensure herd immunity. Dr. Manaf noted that vaccinations are safe and effective in relieving severe symptoms.
Dr. Al Qahtani noted the Kingdom’s emergency use of four vaccines (Sinopharm, Pfizer-Biontech, Astrazeneca-Covishield, and Sputnik V), which have been approved by the National Health Regulatory Authority, adding that individuals are free to choose any vaccine they prefer, free of charge. In this regard, Dr. Al Qahtani emphasised that vaccinated individuals should continue to vigilantly follow all precautionary measures, as vaccinations do not stop infections, but limit their symptoms.
Dr. Al Qahtani underscored the importance of ensuring accurate information is provided to the contact tracing team to ensure mitigation efforts are supported, adding that existing cases are of a highly contagious COVID-19 variant first detected in the United Kingdom. Dr. Al Qahtani emphasised that contacts of active cases must adhere to quarantine measures, which include repeating a negative PCR test in order to exit quarantine.
Dr. Al Qahtani reiterated the importance of following all precautionary and social distancing measures, including limiting family gatherings to those who live in the same household, and protecting the elderly and those who suffer from chronic diseases by limiting physical interactions.
For her part, the Consultant of Infectious and Internal Diseases at Salmaniya Medical Complex and member of the National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Dr. Jameela Al Salman, highlighted the importance of contacting the hotline no 444, and following the guidelines provided, if any COVID-19 symptoms are experienced.
Dr. Al Salman stressed the dangers of self-diagnosis, adding that COVID-19 symptoms may feel like a seasonal cold. Dr. Al Salman added that the precautionary measures to follow are similar to the measures already established which include, washing and sanitizing hands regularly, wearing masks, following social distancing guidelines, and getting vaccinated.
Dr. Al Salman further noted the importance of going out only when needed and avoiding gatherings to those living in the same household or social circle.
Dr. Al Salman concluded by reviewing the health status of active cases, reporting that 60 current active cases are in intensive care, and the number of cases requiring treatment reached 157. 7,479 out of a total of 7,539 cases are in stable condition, with a total of 106,412 cases having recovered.