Manama, Mar. 26(BNA): The National Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19) today held a press briefing to provide updates regarding the current state of efforts and future plans to prevent the spread of COVID-19, at the Crown Prince Centre for Training and Medical Research at the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) Hospital.
HE Faeqa bint Saeed Al Saleh, Minister of Health, underlined HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander, and First Deputy Prime Minister’s comprehensive approach to stem the spread of COVID-19 by utilising tailored effective and preventative strategies, such as the decision to limit public gatherings to 5 people.
HE the Minister went on to highlight expectations regarding the upcoming closure of non-essential businesses set to take place between 26 March 2020 to April 9 2020, during which only hypermarkets, supermarkets, cold stores, bakeries, pharmacies, and banks will remain open, and restaurants will limit their service to delivery and takeout only.
On this note, HE the Minister affirmed that reserves remain sufficient to ensure the supply of essential food and medicines for more than 6 months, adding that Bahrain has continually tracked the movement of goods within the supply chain to ensure necessities are met, and robust emergency food stockpile policies have been introduced as a form of contingency planning.
HE emphasised that hospital beds remain available to meet surge capacity in active cases. Current treatment centres capacity stands at 1,667 beds of which 249 beds are occupied, and current quarantine centres capacity stands at 2,504 beds of which 139 beds are being occupied. Additionally, the compartmentalized structure of quarantine centres allows for quick conversion to treatment centres if required.
HE added that Bahrain has conducted over 29,000 tests for COVID-19, with results now accessible via an online account at the Ministry of Health’s website for individuals that have taken the test. Additionally, contact tracing activities are underway to reduce COVID-19 transmission by identification, isolation and treatment.
Lt. Col. Dr. Manaf Al Qahtani, Infectious Diseases Consultant & Microbiologist at the BDF Hospital and Member of the National Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus, commended the self-discipline and civic responsibility citizens and residents have shown in adhering to preventive measure, stressing that contingency is crucial.
Dr. Manaf underscored the three phases of overcoming the virus: containment, mitigation and suppression. Dr. Manaf noted that Bahrain, at present, has moved to the mitigation phase. He noted that this is a natural shift, given the global outbreak of the virus, underlining that no country can remain in the containment phase in light of the widespread across the world.
Dr. Manaf added that as long as citizens and residents continue to adhere to the procedures and regulations outlined by the concerned authorities, the Kingdom can overcome the virus and avoid the suppression phase and its challenges.
Dr Manaf highlighted the slight increase in the weekly average of active cases, as follows: 7 during the first week, 5 during the second week, 19 during the third week, 17 during the fourth week and 21 during the fifth week, following the registration of the first active case in the Kingdom.
Dr. Jameela Al Salman, Consultant of Infectious and Internal Diseases at Salmaniya Medical Complex, stated that Bahrain has been amongst the first countries in using hydroxychloroquine to treat the symptoms of COVID-19, noting its success in China and South Korea.
Dr. Al Salman then highlighted the status of active cases as follows: 249 active cases, of which 248 are stable and 1 remains critical. 204 individuals have recovered, including 14 today, and 412 have been discharged so far after completing the 14-day quarantine period, of which 7 were released today.
Dr. Al Salman concluded by expressing her condolences to the family of the 78-year-old Bahraini citizen who passed away yesterday, an active COVID-19 patient with underlying medical and chronic issues.