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Monday, August 15, 2022

The National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19) provides an update on the COVID-19 response in the Kingdom

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.

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During the conference, Dr. Waleed Khalifa Al Manea, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Health and member of the National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Lt. Col. Manaf Al Qahtani, Infectious Disease Consultant & Microbiologist at the BDF Hospital and member of the National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19), and Dr. Jameela Al Salman, Consultant of Infectious and Internal Diseases at Salmaniya Medical Complex and member of the National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19) received a COVID-19 vaccine, as part of the emergency use of the COVID-19 vaccine among frontline healthcare workers, who are in direct contact with active COVID-19 cases.

The Taskforce thanked His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister, for his directives to prioritise frontline healthcare workers when administering the vaccine.

Dr. Al Manea began by stating that the Ministry of Health has introduced a new website dedicated to providing updates on COVID-19 and other public health issues, following directives set by HRH the Crown Prince (accessible at: healthalerts.gov.bh).

Dr. Al Manea congratulated the Bahrain Airport Company for receiving an Airport Health Accreditation, from Airports Council International (ACI), reflecting the Airport’s ongoing commitment to exceptional standards of hygiene and comprehensive precautionary measures, keeping travellers and staff safe.

Regarding schools, Dr. Al Manea reaffirmed that the Ministry is coordinating with the Ministry of Education to safeguard the health of all students and staff members. Dr Al Manea highlighted the action taken in response to the detection of positive cases at private schools, which included pausing in-person instructions for 10 days and thoroughly disinfecting the premises, reiterating that schools who have had active cases will not resume in-person teaching until approved by the Public Health directorate.

Turning to patient outcomes, Dr. Al Manea advised that the current recovery rate is 96.74% with a 0.39% death rate. Isolation centre capacity stands at 8%, with 555 out of 6,910 beds occupied, and 1,804 asymptomatic cases under optional home self-isolation after meeting the requirements to do so.

On treatment protocols, Dr. Manaf Al Qahtani confirmed that Bahrain’s emergency use authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine, for those frontline health workers in contact with active cases, is in compliance with existing regulations and follows successful clinical trials, held in collaboration with G42 Healthcare, an artificial intelligence company based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Dr. Al Manaf provided information on the recently introduced rapid antigen tests, which deliver cost effective on-the-spot results within 15 minutes, without the need for specialty lab equipment. He noted that this technology will not replace PCR testing, which remains the primary determinant of infection.

Dr. Al Manea explained that rapid antigen testing has the potential to play a significant role in reducing the spread of the virus by increasing the capacity for mass testing in a short period of time. Patients returning a positive result are required to immediately report their results to 444, self-isolate and take a second PCR test.

Dr. Manaf went on to invite fully recovered patients who meet the requirements, to donate their blood plasma at the BDF Hospital’s Blood Bank between the hours of 7:30 to 13:00, Sunday to Wednesday, and 12:30 to 18:00 on Thursday – with further information available at the call centre, accessible at: +973 17766279.

Dr. Jameela Al Salman underscored that Bahrain’s forward-looking policies are helping to protect citizens and residents from COVID-19, as well as first responders who are at higher risk.

Dr. Al Salman noted that the Ministry is continuously expanding COVID-19 testing capacity to identify, isolate and break chains of infection, adding that random community-based testing sites have helped identify asymptomatic cases.

Dr. Al Salman went on to highlight the importance of continuing to adhere to preventative measures and reduce the spread of COVID-19, further reminding everyone to limit direct physical contact with those outside their household or place of work.

Dr. Al Salman reviewed the health status of active cases, confirming 2,339 stable cases from a total of 2,359 active cases. Currently, 61 COVID-19 cases are receiving treatment, of which 20 are in a critical condition. Dr. Al Salman noted that over 1,780,000 tests have been conducted to date.

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