The National 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 Taskforce announced the discovery of a COVID-19 variant in a number of active cases. The discovery was made through continuous monitoring, analysis and follow-up of active cases. In this regard, the Taskforce emphasised the importance of following all health precautionary measures issued by the National Medical Taskforce for Combating the (COVID-19), and various relevant entities.
Based on the periodic analysis of data within the Kingdom, and recommendations made by the National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the following has been decided:
- Suspension of in-person learning at public and private schools, public and private universities, kindergartens licensed by the Ministry of Education, rehabilitation centres affiliated with the Ministry of Labour and Social Development, and nurseries, private training centres, and institutes licensed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Development for a period of three weeks, effective from Sunday, 31st January;
- Remote learning to continue at all the aforementioned entities. These measures exclude members of the administrative, educational and technical bodies, while in-person learning will continue at special needs schools and centres;
- Suspension of indoor dining services at restaurants and cafes for a period of three weeks, effective from Sunday, 31st January, while outdoor dining will continue to be permitted as per previously announced health measures.
The Taskforce stressed the importance of strictly adhering to preventive measures to protect against the further spread of the virus, and affirmed that careful monitoring of epidemiological data will continue to inform decision making, adding that the reopening or closing of activities will be heavily dependent upon empirical data.
HE Lt.-Gen. Tariq bin Hassan al-Hassan, Chief of Public Security and Chairman of the National Disaster Management Committee, asked each member of the community to increase their efforts in mitigating the spread of the virus, alongside the Ministry of Interior, which has pledged to increase law enforcement campaigns and inspections of restaurants, hotels and stores.
AL Hasan affirmed that those who commit violations will face legal consequences, reporting 8,901 face mask violations and 518 social distancing violations between 1st January 2021 and 26th January 2021.
HE the Lt.Gen. added that the Ministry will further expand the reach of its multilingual awareness campaigns to ensure that all expatriate workers have access to information in their preferred language, alongside services to disinfect public places led by the Civil Defense teams.
HE Lt. Gen. Al Hassan reiterated the importance of following all social distancing guidelines, particularly within random testing locations, and the importance of collaborating with security personnel when out in public. HE Lt. Gen Al Hassan highlighted the personal, social and national responsibility everyone holds in upholding social distancing guidelines and following precautionary measures.
HE Dr. Waleed Khalifa Al Manea, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Health and Member of the National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19), underlined the Ministry’s commitment to expand COVID-19 testing and contact tracing to swiftly identify, treat and break new chains of transmissions.
HE Dr. Al Manea highlighted the need to continue to take precautions whilst global efforts are underway to produce and distribute vaccines.
HE Dr. Al Manea highlighted that the National Vaccination Campaign continues its efforts to ensure vaccinations are available and is coordinating with manufacturers to ensure the provision and distribution of vaccines as soon as possible, calling on all to register to get vaccinated. HE Dr. Al Manea further highlighted that the worldwide delays in delivering vaccines warrants even greater caution from all, as national efforts are underway to protect the nation from this dangerous virus
HE Dr. Al Manea went on to advise the public by saying “don’t leave home unless necessary”, calling on all to limit social interactions to close social circles or family members within the same household to avoid further spread of the virus, noting that the current increase in active cases is in part due to complacency.