The National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19) provides an update on the COVID-19 response in the Kingdom

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Manama, May 20 (BNA): The National Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19) today held a press conference to provide an update on the Kingdom’s COVID-19 response, at the Crown Prince Centre for Training and Medical Research, Bahrain Defence Force Hospital.

 

Based on updated medical statistics, and following an approval from the Government Executive Committee, the Taskforce announced the following decisions to take place from Friday, 21 May 2021, until 3 June 2021:

 

•                     Entry to shopping malls will be restricted to individuals, aged 18 and above, who are vaccinated and have completed 14 days after the second dose and to those who have recovered from COVID-19.  Proof of both must be provided by presenting the green shield via the “BeAware” application.

•                     Entry to retail shops, with the exception of supermarkets, banks, pharmacies and hospitals, will be restricted to individuals, aged 18 and above, who are vaccinated and have completed 14 days after the second dose and to those who have recovered from the virus. Proof of both must be provided by presenting the green shield via the “BeAware” application.

•                     Limiting indoor services (such as restaurants, cinemas, salons, etc.) to individuals, aged 18 and above, who are vaccinated or have recovered from the virus. Proof of both must be provided by presenting the green shield via the “BeAware” application.

•                     Limiting entrance to service centers and government offices to individuals, aged 18 and above, who are vaccinated and have completed 14 days after the second dose and to those who have recovered. Proof of both must be provided by presenting the green shield via the “BeAware” application. 

•                     Limiting private gatherings to a maximum of only 6 individuals.

 

Moreover, additional measures have been introduced for passengers arriving from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal, including:

 

•                     Entry into the Kingdom is restricted to holders of residence visas from these countries.

•                     Passengers arriving from the aforementioned countries must quarantine for 10 days.

•                     All arrivals from the mentioned countries are required to present a certificate confirming the result of a negative PCR test containing a QR code, no more than 48 hours before their arrival.

•                     All arrivals must conduct a PCR test upon arrival, a second PCR test for arrivals who will stay in Bahrain for a period of more than 5 days, and a third PCR test ten days after the date of arrival for those who will reside in Bahrain for a period of more than 10 days.

 

The Undersecretary at the Ministry of Health and Member of the National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19), HE Dr. Waleed Khalifa Al Manea, highlighted the rise in COVID-19 cases yesterday, which reached 2354 cases in total, adding that the increase in PCR testing and contact tracing efforts are to ensure lives are saved. 

 

HE Dr. Al Manea noted that it was everyone’s responsibility to adhere to all the precautionary measures, including avoiding gatherings, and receiving a vaccine. He emphasised that the epidemiological data indicated the importance of these precautionary measures and the dire consequences of complacency.

 

HE Dr. Al Manea added that the daily epidemiological data indicated that the highest prevalence of cases was due to transmission within the community rather than from outside sources, adding that despite the limited number of existing cases from abroad, the Kingdom had implemented tight procedures at the airport that provided the required degree of safety. These included requiring a PCR certificate with a QR code not more than 48 hours before arrival, another PCR test upon arrival, and on day 5 and day 10 of stay, as well as a ten day quarantine for passengers arriving from countries with high cases of COVID-19.

 

HE Dr. Al Manea highlighted that only 14 out of 2354 newly active cases were registered from abroad, and the statistics indicated that the percentage of positive cases among travelers entering the Kingdom during the month of April amounted to only 1.76%.

 

HE Dr. Al Manea reiterated the importance of following all health measures, adding that everyone is responsible in ensuring the health of our neighborhoods and communities and that receiving a vaccine is of utmost importance, now more than ever.

 

Turning to statistics, HE Dr. Al Manea noted that the percentage of existing cases among Bahraini nationals out of the total number of existing cases has reached 60%, while the percentage of existing cases of children from the age of (0-18 years) reached 42%, adding that this needs to be taken seriously. In this regard, HE Dr. Al Manea emphasised that all citizens and residents have previously worked together to ensure cases were reduced, and should continue to do so now, adding that a united stand and cooperation will help reduce infection rates and eradicate the virus.  

 

He emphasised that the Taskforce continues to study local epidemiological data and compare it to developments worldwide, adding that any decisions taken is to safeguard public health. HE Dr. Al Manea noted that inspection campaigns continue to take place across the Kingdom to ensure all continue to follow precautionary measures, with legal measures being taken against violators.

 

HE Dr. Al Manea then reviewed statistics for the number of existing cases from last Thursday, corresponding to 13th May 2021, noting that 1816 new existing cases were registered, with 71.3% of cases due to private gatherings and half of the cases were Bahraini nationals. 

 

HE Dr. Al Manea stressed the importance of continuing to adhere to the precautionary measures and avoid gatherings, highlighting that vaccination centers will expand, to accelerate vaccination rates to safeguard the health of all.   

 

For his part, the Infectious Disease Consultant & Microbiologist at the BDF Hospital and member of the National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Lt. Col. Dr. Manaf Al Qahtani, highlighted that out of 206,000 cases that have been registered since the first detection of COVID-19 case in Bahrain, 94% are among those who are not vaccinated, and the percentage of those who were vaccinated was only 6%.

 

Dr. Al Qahtani noted that the number of those who received the first dose of vaccination amounted to 861,398, while the number of those who had received the second dose was 657,975, and the number of those who took the two doses of vaccination and completed two weeks since the second dose was 558,669. In this regard, Dr. Al Qahtani made clear that by 1 July 2021, it is expected that the percentage of the eligible population who completed two weeks since their second dose would amount to 78%,  and by 15 July 2021, the percentage is expected to reach 87%.

 

Of the total population, Dr. Al Qahtani added that the percentage of those who received the vaccination and completed 14 days after their second dose had reached 37.2%, making up 48.6% of the number of those eligible for vaccination. Dr. Al-Qahtani further emphasised that the percentage of those who had received at least the first dose of various vaccinations was 75% of the total eligible population, which is approximately 57% of the total population.

 

Dr. Al Qahtani indicated that only 2% of those vaccinated with two doses and had completed the 14 day period thereafter had contracted the virus and none of those had required treatment.

 

Dr. Al Qahtani underscored the importance of receiving a vaccine, adding that all vaccines in the Kingdom are safe and effective, indicating that the percentage of existing cases of vaccinated people who completed two weeks after the second dose of the Sinopharm, Pfizer-BioNtech, Covishield-AstraZeneca, and Sputnik V, are around 1 to 2% for all of the vaccines. In this regard, Dr. Al Qahtani highlighted that vaccines reduce infection rates, and symptoms if one gets infected, noting the importance of being vaccinated and following all precautionary measures.

 

Dr. Al Qahtani affirmed that the percentage of deaths from those who took the two doses of vaccination and completed two weeks thereafter from January to 19 May 2021, out of a total of 422 deaths amounted to only 6%, while the percentage of those who were not vaccinated amounted to 94%. Based on 19 May 2021, 8 deaths were registered among 7 non vaccinated individuals and only one vaccinated person, adding that all had underlying health issues.

Also based on 19 May 2021, 197 cases were admitted to intensive care, 85% of cases among non-vaccinated individuals, meaning that only 15% were vaccinated, adding that most of them had underlying health conditions.

 

Dr. Al Qahtani emphasised the effectiveness of vaccines approved by the Kingdom of Bahrain as evidenced by the data and a vaccines ability to provide protection and safety. He also stressed the importance of limiting gatherings as the main source of transmission and of the ability of children to be carriers of the virus whilst not showing any symptoms - due to the the incubation period among children being longer than in adults.

 

He also highlighted that the Kingdom of Bahrain has now provided vaccinations for those between 12-17 years. He called on all parents to take the initiative and register their children for a vaccination. Dr. Al Qahtani further urged those who are 50 and above, the most vulnerable groups, and frontline workers who have completed 6 months since taking the second dose of the Sinopharm vaccination, to register for a booster dose.

 

Dr. Al Qahtani added that the Taskforce continues to study epidemiological data and base their decisions on the sources of infection, that today, are mostly because of family gatherings. The closure of some sectors will only take place when they are proven to be a source of infection.

 

The Consultant of Infectious and Internal Diseases at Salmaniya Medical Complex and member of the National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Dr. Jameela Al Salman, concluded by highlighting that complacency had been responsible for the recent rise in infections, adding that frontline workers continue to ensure the health of all and that everyone remains safe, and that everyone must support these efforts by following all precautionary measures and receiving a vaccine as a national and social responsibility.

 

AHN