Fifth press conference for the Supreme Committee for Crisis Management

24 March 2020

In the Name of Allah the Merciful, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

At first, we would like to say that we are proud of the citizens and residents who have appreciated the importance of individual responsibility and, out of a sense of community, stayed at their homes and followed preventive measures.

Today (24 March 2020), 25 new cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) have been confirmed, 16 of which are expat workers. The additional nine cases came from abroad, including five Qatari citizens who returned from the United Kingdom. All new patients are under quarantine and one Qatari citizen who returned from the UK has been admitted to intensive care. All patients are receiving the necessary medical care.

On the other hand, four people have recovered from the virus today, one of whom is a Qatari citizen. This increases the number of recovered cases to 41. We thank God for their safety and pray to Him for a speedy recovery for the remaining patients.

This is a temporary phase and, God willing, it will pass. We will overcome it and be stronger, with even more faith in our capabilities, including those of our people and our institutions. Together, God willing, we will combat the virus.

The Supreme Committee for Crisis Management has previously announced, in its third press conference on 19 March, that a number of volunteering opportunities with relevant parties would be made available. The response we have seen from the people of Qatar, including citizens and residents, was thankfully very quick. We now have almost 35 thousand volunteers for the Ministry of Public Health, Qatar Charity and Qatar Red Crescent. The Ministry of Public Health is now working with concerned bodies to deploy these volunteers based on need and expertise. God bless these efforts.

Brothers and sisters,

I assure you that the State of Qatar is strongly committed to providing the highest levels of medical care to all, free of charge without any exceptions.

Regarding the recently closed portion of the Industrial Area, the Ministry of Public Health has established three mobile testing units, in addition to six dedicated ambulances to operate in the area. They are carrying out randomised testing to ensure the area is clear of Coronavirus (COVID-19), referring those who may be carrying the virus to health centres to receive the necessary health care.

Food and medical supplies for those who live in the area continue to flow in cooperation with concerned authorities. There are nearly one thousand vehicles entering the area daily to provide essential supplies, and preventive measures are being applied. We would like to pay tribute to the residents for their cooperation and patience during these difficult times as well as to relevant embassies for their cooperation in raising awareness and reassuring their communities.

We would also like to announce that the Ministry of Public Health, in cooperation with the Qatari Armed Forces, has established two temporary medical facilities to provide health care for workers who have been classified as having mild cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The capacity of these two facilities is 4,645 beds, with medical and nursing care available around the clock, seven days a week, in addition to the provision of a pharmacy, comfortable accommodation, healthy food services, security and waste management. All of these facilities have internet services, while the latest information and updates are shared regularly in several languages. As a proactive measure, work is currently underway to prepare other medical field facilities in different regions throughout the country to provide medical and nursing services for mild and moderate cases, with capacity expected to reach 18,000 beds in the next few weeks.

In addition, based on the directives of His Highness the Amir, which were announced in the initial package of decisions, Qatar Central Bank issued a circular to banks operating in the country regarding postponing outstanding loan instalments and the interests or returns resulting therefrom. This applies to any of those from the affected sectors that were included in the decisions of the Supreme Committee for Crisis Management, for a period of six months, as of 16 March, 2020. The circular also stipulated the allocation of a repurchase window (repo), with a zero percent rate, to be used by banks to postpone loan instalments or grant new loans, as well as to cancel fees on points of sale (POS) and withdrawal fees via ATMs. It is worth noting that the loans mentioned in the circular do not include personal loans granted with a salary guarantee. Qatar Central Bank has also issued a circular to banks operating in the country and to money exchange shops regarding the facilitation of electronic money transfers abroad and the provision of electronic services to workers, as well as the advertisement of all electronic services using all means.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry will be signing 14 contracts this week to increase the strategic stock of food and consumer commodities. This is part of the country’s plan to secure the flow of high-quality imports to the local market in sufficient quantities and at reasonable prices in order to meet the demands of citizens and residents.

With this in mind, we would like to confirm the availability of enough food and consumer commodities, and we strongly advise, for your own safety, against unnecessary crowding in grocery shops.

The Transport Group of the Qatar Amiri Air Force, in cooperation with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has also supervised the facilitation of regular trips to the People’s Republic of China in order to meet all the needs of the local market in terms of masks and medical sterilizers.

Separately, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls on citizens, children of Qatari women, and spouses of Qatari citizens to register their details through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs smart phone application or on its website, so that we are able to contact them in emergencies.

During this crisis, we, the State of Qatar, cannot forget our brothers and friends who are doing their part to combat the pandemic. The State of Qatar has sent medical aid to several countries to combat the virus, including aid for the Palestinian people. Moreover, the Ministry of Public Health is in constant contact with its counterparts in various countries as well as the World Health Organisation to stay up to date with the latest developments and solutions to halt the spread of the virus. Our hands remain outstretched to provide aid and support to all countries to combat this pandemic.

Finally, we pray to God to preserve our country and our people from all harm.

Thank you.