An update on the COVID-19 response in the Kingdom was presented today by the National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19), with the underlying message being for all citizens and residents to comply with precautions and directives.
The press conference was held at the Crown Prince Centre for Training and Medical Research at the Bahrain Defence Force Hospital.
The Undersecretary at the Ministry of Health, Dr Waleed Khalifa Al Manea, highlighted the importance of vigilantly following all precautionary measures in light of the prevalence of the highly contagious variant COVID-19 strain and further explained that despite relentless contact tracing efforts, there has been a rise in active cases and it is a shared responsibility to ensure communities are safeguarded from the virus.
Dr Al Manea emphasised the importance of following all precautionary measures to ensure active cases can be reduced. He noted that the increased rate of infections, with close to 900 cases per day being reported, is a striking escalation from the 114 cases recorded previously in November.
Based on analysis from contact tracing operations involving 300,000 individuals, he highlighted that a predominant factor explaining the spread of COVID-19 is general complacency and large family gatherings, which has led to not only an increase in cases, but an increase in the number of deaths and patients in intensive care. De. Al Manea stressed the importance of following all social distancing guidelines by limiting interactions to those living in the same household, and to avoid large family gatherings.
He explained the introduction of new screening measures for travellers entering the Kingdom, as reported on our website yesterday, which includes an additional COVID-19 PCR test to be conducted on the fifth day after arrival, totalling three PCR tests, for a reduced total fee of BD36.
The capacity of the Kingdom’s isolation and treatment centres is 5,499 beds, of which 1,750 are currently occupied, representing 30.2 per-cent of capacity. The number of asymptomatic active cases under optional home isolation is 5,789 and the percentage of patients recovered out of total cases has reached 93.05 per-cent, while the death rate is 0.55 per-cent of total cases.
The Infectious Disease Consultant & Microbiologist at the BDF Hospital and member of the National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Lt. Col. Manaf Al Qahtani, highlighted the importance of receiving the vaccination, which will ensure herd immunity.
He noted the Kingdom’s emergency use of four vaccines (Sinopharm, Pfizer-Biontech, Astrazeneca-Covishield, and Sputnik V), which have been approved by the National Health Regulatory Authority, adding that individuals are free to choose any vaccine they prefer, free of charge.
He also stressed that vaccinated individuals should continue to vigilantly follow all precautionary measures, as vaccinations do not stop infections, but limit their symptoms.
The importance of ensuring accurate information is provided to the contact tracing team to ensure mitigation efforts are supported was underlined, considering that existing cases are of a highly contagious COVID-19 variant first detected in the United Kingdom. Contacts of active cases must adhere to quarantine measures, which include repeating a negative PCR test in order to exit quarantine.
The Consultant of Infectious and Internal Diseases at Salmaniya Medical Complex, Dr Jameela Al Salman, highlighted the importance of contacting the hotline number 444, and following the guidelines provided, if any COVID-19 symptoms are experienced.
She stressed the dangers of self-diagnosis, adding that COVID-19 symptoms may feel like a seasonal cold. The precautionary measures to follow are similar to the measures already established which include washing and sanitising hands regularly, wearing masks, following social distancing guidelines and getting vaccinated.
The press conference was concluded by reviewing the health status of active cases, reporting that 60 current active cases are in intensive care, and the number of cases requiring treatment reached 157. 7,479 out of a total of 7,539 cases are in stable condition, with a total of 106,412 cases having recovered.
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