Friday, October 2, 2020

The National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19) highlights measures taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19

The National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Labour Fund (Tamkeen) held a press conference at the Crown Prince Centre for Training and Medical Research at the Bahrain Defense Force Hospital.

Dr. Waleed Khalifa Al Manea, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Health and member of the National Medical Taskforce for Combating Coronavirus (COVID-19), began by expressing his appreciation to HM the King for his continuous support to first responders from across all sectors.

Dr. Al Manea noted that the Kingdom continues to tackle the pandemic as well as an infodemic of misinformation to curb the spread of the virus and reduce fear and anxiety, increase awareness and ensure service excellence in the health industry.

Dr. Al Manea noted that Bahrain has implemented innovative solutions to tackle challenges arising from the spread of the virus with the introduction of a telemedicine services, launched by the Ministry of Health, which provide medical consultations and allow for prescriptions to be renewed remotely, among other services.

Dr. Al Manea went on to provide statistics on registered cases within the Kingdom, outlining that the percentage of those recovering has reached 89.65% of registered cases, with a death rate of 0.34% of registered cases. The Undersecretary added that isolation centers’ occupancy stands at 25%, with 2,083 out of 8,357 beds occupied, and 1,649 asymptotic cases are under optional home self-isolation after meeting the set criteria.

For his part, Dr. Ebrahim Mohammed Janahi, Chief Executive of Labour Fund ‘Tamkeen’, commended the leadership and directives of HM King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to unite national efforts in the face of COVID-19. Dr. Janahi also praised the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic led by HRH Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister, with the support of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister.

Dr. Janahi added that these directives, and the support extended to citizens and the private sector, played a central role in addressing the repercussions of the global pandemic, with the launch, and implementation, of several initiatives comprising the economic stimulus package, which amount to BHD 4.5 billion to date.

Dr. Janahi noted that as a result of this stimulus package, Tamkeen has introduced its Business Continuity Support Program and later expanded its scope from initially supporting small and micro enterprises to include taxicab drivers, public transport and bus drivers, driving instructors and kindergarten and nursery workers, benefiting over 15,600 companies and 900 Bahrainis to date. The BHD 40 million programme has provided monthly stimulus support to micro and small enterprises ranging from BHD 1,050 to BHD 12,000, over three months.

Dr. Janahi highlighted that from July 2020, the Business Continuity Program has doubled the support it provides to enterprises operating in sectors most adversely affected by COVID-19 and has extended the program for a further 3 months, benefiting over 3,000 enterprises and 296 enterprises retroactively.

Dr. Janahi affirmed that the program extension will support 1,914 saloons, 393 restaurants and cafes, 346 travel offices, 205 gyms, 193 institutions, as well as supplementing the income of 50% of taxicab drivers, public transport and bus drivers, driving instructors and kindergarten and nursery workers.

Lt. Col. Manaf Al Qahtani, Infectious Disease Consultant & Microbiologist at the BDF and member of the National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19), recognised the importance of ensuring that social distancing and other preventative measures are observed.

Dr. Al Qahtani spoke about the spike in cases that occurred as a result of gatherings which took place during the last days of Ramadhan and during Eid Al-Fitr. Al-Qahtani explained the following:

  • On the first day of Eid-Al-Fitr (25 May), there was a total of 4,323 active cases
  • On 3 June 2020, one week after Eid celebrations, the total number of active cases increased to 4,988 cases
  • On 11 June 2020, 2 weeks following the Eid celebration, the total number of active cases increased to 5,343 cases

Al-Qahtani remarked that due to non-compliance with social distancing and precautionary measures during that time, the number of contacts of active cases increased by approximately 1,000 cases.

Al Qahtani went on to note that with the close approach of Eid-Al-Adha, citizens and residents should commit to social distancing, amongst all the precautionary guidelines published by authorities, to avoid another spike in cases.

Dr. Al Qahtani noted that Bahrain continues to expand its COVID-19 testing capacity to swiftly identify, isolate and treat active cases. He added that Bahrain is committed to its “Test, Trace, Treat” strategy and currently has the second highest number of tests per 1,000 people in the world.

To further limit the spread of the virus, Dr. Al Qahtani noted that the Ministry of Health is now publishing cluster-based contact tracing reports on a weekly basis.

Al Qahtani then went on to invite fully recovered patients who meet the required conditions to donate their blood plasma at the BDF Hospital’s Blood Bank, to further support efforts in treating COVID-19 active cases.

To conclude, 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 Salman, reviewed the health status of COVID-19 cases, noting that total active cases has reached 3,732. Of these, 90 active cases require treatment, and 47 cases are critical, while 3,685 cases are stable. Meanwhile, 33,455 individuals have recovered and have been discharged from isolation and quarantine centres.

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