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 Kingdom’s COVID-19 response.
The Taskforce began by reminding citizens and residents of the importance of continuing to observe preventative measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, particularly during the New Year public holiday.
Speaking about the rollout of the Kingdom’s Covid-19 vaccination program, Dr. Waleed Khalifa Al Manea, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Health and member of the National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19), confirmed the program is ongoing and proceeding in accordance with the National Vaccination Campaign.
Al Manea explained that more than one million vaccinations have been on order since August, with Bahrain being one of the first countries globally to place orders with vaccine manufacturers.
Al Manea added that coordination with approved vaccine providers on the receipt of further consignments is ongoing, aligned to their logistical plans for vaccine distribution.
He then went on to thank all those who have participated in the vaccination campaign to date, protecting themselves, their families and the community.
Turning to local and international developments related to COVID-19, Al Manea explained that the National Medical Taskforce is closely monitoring all developments and revising their response where appropriate.
Al Manea explained that the average number of daily new active cases as a percentage of daily COVID-19 tests during the first three weeks of December was approximately 1.5%, increasing to 2.4% from the 24th to 28th of December.
Al Manea added that this reflected an increase of 34% in the average of daily new active cases in that five-day period compared to the first three weeks of the month.
In light of this, Al Manea went on to stress the importance of continued and full adherence to public health measures, warning that the virus is still active, and any complacency risked endangering the community.
Al Manea further noted the importance of continuing to strictly adhere to all precautionary measures by limiting gatherings to members of the same household or close social circle and utilising outdoor open spaces rather than closed places, while observing social distancing guidelines.
Turning to patient outcomes, Dr. Al Manea explained that the recovery rate is currently at 97.43% with a 0.38% death rate. Isolation centre occupancy stands at 8.9%, with 540 beds occupied out of 6,078 available, and 1,474 asymptomatic cases under optional home self-isolation, after meeting the set criteria.
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), underlined the central role each member of the community plays in supporting mitigation efforts. Al-Qahtani explained that during the period from the 1st to 28th of December, contact tracing revealed that the source of infection for 39% of new active cases was family related, reflecting the importance of avoiding gatherings and limiting meeting to members of the same household, while observing social distancing.
Dr. Manaf highlighted that the Taskforce continues to track international COVID-19 developments, affirming that it has paid particular attention to the new strain found in a number of countries and is closely monitoring developments. In this regard, Dr. Al Qahtani noted that all necessary and coordinated measures will be taken to ensure the Kingdom’s community is safeguarded.
Speaking of the National Vaccination Campaign, Al Qahtani noted that dates for those registering to be vaccinated are determined by the availability of stock already received within the Kingdom of Bahrain.
He went on to note that in only 13 days, the number of the vaccinated citizens and residents in the Kingdom reached 56041, reflecting positively on the Kingdom’s collective national responsibility.
Dr. Al Qahtani emphasised that antibody responses induced by the COVID-19 vaccine will differ between individuals.
However, vaccination will protect individuals from the most severe impact. Therefore, it is extremely important for those who have received the vaccine to continue to comply with all precautionary measures.
For her part, 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), reviewed the health status of active cases, confirming 2,014 cases, of which 10 are critical, 25 are receiving medical care and 2004 are stable. Dr. Al Salman also confirmed 89,804 cases have recovered.
Dr. Al Saman indicated that the Kingdom of Bahrain ranks highly globally in the rate of testing per 1000 people, and that the recovery rate from the virus is also among the highest in the world.
Dr. Al Salman concluded by stressing the importance of supporting the national effort to defeat COVID-19 by following all precautionary and social distancing measures, especially during the new year holiday, highlighting that the wearing of face masks in public will reduce the spread of COVID-19.