Third press conference for the Supreme Committee for Crisis Management

19 March 2020

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

Chaired by His Excellency the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, the Supreme Committee for Crisis Management met today with relevant Ministers and the heads of the various concerned bodies to assess the progress of efforts to contain Coronavirus (COVID-19) and to manage the crisis in a way that guarantees the health and safety of the community and the continuation of a good standard of living for the people of Qatar.

I will update you today on the latest developments. Today, eight new cases were confirmed. Most are expatriates, as well as two Qatari citizens who have recently returned from the Italian Republic and the United Kingdom. All of these cases are currently under quarantine. Overall, the majority of cases in Qatar are in a stable condition. However, six individuals are currently in the intensive care unit and we pray to God for their speedy recovery.

In another respect, I am pleased to announce today the full recovery of six new patients. Four of these cases are expatriates and two are Qatari citizens, making the total number of patients who have recovered from the virus to ten patients.

As part of its efforts to tackle the virus, the Supreme Committee for Crisis Management has established dedicated hotlines to receive suggestions and complaints to deal with the community’s needs. Additional details will be announced shortly.

Brothers and sisters, throughout the crisis we have sought to be fully transparent with the public, and we are proud to uphold this commitment. . We would like to remind everyone to avoid circulating rumors and fake news, and to refer only to news from official sources. This includes the social media accounts of the Government Communications Office and the Ministry of Public Health.

In keeping with this approach of maximum transparency, we would like to today provide an update on the chains of transmission of the virus in the State of Qatar. Clearly this is a new virus and health authorities in Qatar and around the world are working hard to determine the characteristics of the pandemic and its spread so we can combat it.

Based on what we have seen in the State of Qatar, there are two main chains of transmission for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) to date:

  1. One chain of transmission is among migrant workers. This has been spread within the community – known as ‘community spread’. The disease has been concentrated in the area from Street 1 to 32 in the Industrial Area, which has now been quarantined.
  2. Another chain of transmission exists among Qatari citizens. For the most part, this is not considered ‘community spread’ but has instead been transmitted by citizens who have returned from certain countries, especially from Europe, and have been quarantined.

This does not mean, however, that these chains of transmission will not change in future, but this is what we have observed so far. Consequently, this requires a certain set of responsibilities from those returning from abroad and to maintain that they are exercising caution with regard to themselves and in regards to their family members, whether this family member is a grandparent, parent, sibling or a child. Your safety is their safety.

We reiterate that the period ahead is a crucial phase in breaking the transmission chains, and it requires the joint efforts of everyone involved and self-monitoring. The Ministry of Public Health has specified that home quarantine is an alternative option for families returning from abroad who prefer this alternative for special considerations, on the condition that they do not exhibit symptoms of the virus and pass the initial medical test. They are also required to sign an agreement to adhere to procedures approved by relevant international institutions and the Ministry of Public Health. In the event of non-compliance, relevant legal measures will be firmly applied. Many other countries have implemented this policy, but primary option is to remain in quarantine within the specified facilities.

Citizens and Residents of Qatar,

Our Prophet (PBUH) said, “Every one of you is a guardian and is responsible for their subjects.” The personal responsibility of individuals in following the necessary preventive measures is crucial in containing the virus and limiting its spread at this critical time. We would like to remind people to limit social gatherings and avoid leaving your houme unless absolutely necessary. The Council of Ministers has implemented the remote working policy for  80 per cent of the public sector employees.

We ask you all not to underestimate this pandemic, to protect yourself and others and keep an appropriate distance when dealing with others. We are heartened that many families are following these measures and are sending positive messages to their networks that they have already started doing so.

Moreover, officials were briefed in the meeting on the latest economic and commercial developments.  Supply chains have not been impacted, and there is a strategic reserve of essential goods in place. A number of relevant policies and measures have been put in place to deal with such crises since 2017.

There are also ongoing efforts to establish more factories to produce essential materials that the State may need in the period ahead. We cannot fail in this regard to acknowledge the role of many private companies, including contracting companies and individuals, as they have presented the finest examples of solidarity in this crisis. Many of them have volunteered and committed themselves to support the State’s efforts. Some private companies that were not included in the Emiri decision took the initiative and voluntarily exempted lessors from rental fees.

In this regard, we announce that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry will be receiving requests from companies that wish to provide services to support the State and the community in these circumstances. The Ministry of Public Health, in cooperation with institutions such as the Qatar Red Crescent and Qatar Charity and others, will allow volunteering for individuals aged between 20 and 45 years old, to provide medical or logistical support, based on their area of expertise and according to conditions set by the Ministry of Public Health.

We are proud of you and it is with your support, God willing, that the State of Qatar will overcome this crisis. I conclude our statement with our Prophet’s (PBUH) Hadeeth:

“Believers in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy are just like one body. When one of the organs suffers, the whole body responds with wakefulness and fever.”