The National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19) today 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.
Speaking on behalf of medical workers, Dr. Waleed Khalifa Al Manea, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Health and member of the National Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19), began by expressing his deep appreciation for HM the King’s recognition at the Cabinet Meeting held last Monday, of the sacrifices made by first responders’ and health workers during COVID-19.
Dr. Al Manea noted that the support extended by HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister continues to underpin Bahrain’s success in addressing COVID-19 and expressed his gratitude for HRH’s leadership in volunteering for the clinical vaccine trials.
Moving to the current state of transmission, Dr. Al Manea recognised that the current phase requires everyone to fully comply with all precautionary measures in place until 1 October 2020, to help flatten the curve and together ‘Commit 4 Bahrain’.
Dr. Al Manea associated the success of Bahrain’s COVID-19 response with the level of coordination involved and the active participation of civil society, and encouraged a return to the higher level of restraint observed in March.
Dr. Al Manea affirmed that the taskforce is assiduously monitoring critical epidemiological data as the COVID-19 situation evolves with all further measures, including the reopening or closing of different sectors, will be heavily dependent upon empirical evidence.
Dr. Al Manea then provided an update on the work done in response to HRH the Crown Prince’s decision to postpone the return of administrative, technical and teaching staff at public schools, affirming that 87% of all public school workers have already been tested, of which 1% returned positive results, with a process underway to test the remaining 13%.
Turning to patient outcomes, Dr. Al Manea explained that the recovery rate is currently at 89.41% with a 0.34% death rate. Isolation centre occupancy stands at 18.7%, 1,431 out of 7,642 available beds, and 5,377 asymptomatic cases are under optional home self-isolation, after meeting the set criteria.
On the vaccine trials, Lt. Col. Manaf Al Qahtani, Infectious Disease Consultant & Microbiologist at the BDF Hospital and member of the National Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19), noted that Bahrain’s volunteer cap for the third phase of the COVID-19 vaccine trial has been extended by 1,700, as a result of the high level of cooperation and participation in the Kingdom.
The decision to expand the number of volunteers by the parties overseeing the trials, follows Bahrain’s early success in meeting its original target of 6,000 volunteers, in only 6 weeks.
Dr. Al Qahtani added that the vaccine trial welcomes volunteers over the age of 18 at Hall 4 in the Bahrain International Exhibition & Convention Centre between the hours of 8:00 and 20:00. Participants must be willing to undergo a health assessment, in accordance with health requirements for clinical trial participation.
Later, Dr. Al Qahtani invited fully recovered patients, who meet clinical requirements, to donate their blood plasma at the BDF Hospital’s Blood Bank, to further support efforts in treating active COVID-19 cases.
Finally, 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 active cases, confirming 6,758 stable cases from a total of 6,808 active cases. Currently, 131 COVID-19 cases are receiving treatment, of which 50 are in a critical condition. Dr. Al Salman noted that more than 1,355,000 COVID-19 tests have been conducted to date in Bahrain.
Dr. Jameela explained that the recent increase in COVID-19 cases is an expected outcome of reduced compliance with precautionary measures, affirming that a higher level in restraint in the coming period, will manage down the increase in cases.
On the occasion of the World Patient Safety Day on 17 September 2020, Dr. Jameela underlined the work Bahrain has done to protect its health workers and patients.
Dr. Al Salman concluded by highlighting the importance of following all precautionary measures and social distancing guidelines at all times, and to continue washing hands regularly using water and soap, using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, frequently disinfecting surfaces and objects that are used regularly, covering the mouth when coughing, immediately disposing of used napkins and tissues, and avoiding direct contact with anyone with a fever or a cough.
Dr. Al Salman further noted that individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, should contact the 444 hotline number and follow the guidelines provided, adding that wearing a mask is pivotal to ensuring citizens and residents remain safeguarded from the virus.