Manama, Mar. 22(BNA): The National Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19) today held a press conference at the Crown Prince Center for Training and Medical Research at the Bahrain Defence Force Hospital to highlight updates on efforts made to contain COVID-19, and new measures to ensure the prevention of its spread.
The Minister of Health, HE Faeqa bint Saeed Al Saleh commended HM the King’s directives for mothers working in the public sector to work from home, noting that this royal directive ensures the safety of citizens and the community.
HE Al Saleh highlighted that the precautionary measures issued by the Government Executive Committee, chaired by HRH the Crown Prince, further safeguard citizens and residents, adding that these measures have been taken following extensive analysis of the data, statistics and wide-ranging indicators regarding the current situation in the Kingdom.
HE Al Saleh underlined that additional measures being introduced today are intended to further support efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, and are designed to reinforce the importance of practicing social distancing, which has been proven to effectively mitigate the spread of the virus. The Minister also underscored the importance of staying at home and only leaving the house when necessary.
On this note, HE Al Saleh reiterated the Ministry’s continued coordinated efforts with relevant authorities in further intensifying measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus.
HE Al Saleh expressed her condolences to the family of the 51-year-old Bahraini citizen who passed away today. The patient had been suffering from underlying and chronic health problems and was registered as an active case of COVID-19.
HE Al Saleh emphasised that the Ministry’s isolation and treatment capacities can accommodate all active cases, free of charge, for both citizens and residents. HE Al Saleh added that the Ministry, after requests from citizens and residents, is in cooperation with private hospitals to facilitate treatment for those who wish to receive medical care from a private medical provider based on the necessary standards and regulations. The Minister outlined that it continues to cooperate with the private sector, whilst continuing to provide free COVID-19 treatment for all citizens and residents.
HE Al Saleh recognised the noble efforts of the Kingdom’s medical staff, noting that their role is pivotal to containing the spread of COVID-19 and adding that the Kingdom’s united stance in combating COVID-19 is a source of great pride.
HE Al Saleh further expressed gratitude to all those who have applied for volunteering opportunities, praising their firm stance in the Kingdom’s fight against COVID-19, evidenced by the 30,000 applications received by the e-Volunteer platform.
HE Al Saleh highlighted that the first group of volunteers to be contacted will be those with a medical background.
The Minister of Industry, Commerce, and Tourism, HE Zayed R. Al Zayani, commended HM the King’s directives issuing a 4.3 billion economic stimulus package, which will ensure the Kingdom continues on its path of sustainable development.
HE Al Zayani highlighted that the Ministry continues to coordinate with relevant authorities to ensure goods and products are continually available in the local markets, and that hypermarkets, supermarkets, cold stores and bakeries continue to work normally. HE Al Zayani went on to assure all that food and products stock in the Kingdom remain abundant, adding that there is no need to purchase in large quantities that exceed what is needed. HE Al Zayani further assured that all food stores are prepared to deliver products when needed, and that the supply of medicine and food remains a priority.
In line with the Kingdom’s efforts in containing the spread of COVID-19, HE Al Zayani noted that all retail stores will close temporarily, and only delivery services will be available from 26 March to 09 April. HE Al Zayani added that all retail stores will be open again from 09 April to 23 April.
HE Al Zayani reiterated that hypermarkets, supermarkets, cold stores, bakeries, pharmacies, and banks will remain open and emphasised that restaurants will continue to provide services via take away or delivery only. HE Al Zayani stressed that all changes are only temporary and due to the challenges faced by COVID-19.
HE Al Zayani went on to urge all citizens and residents to remain at home as much as possible, and leave only for urgent matters if needed. HE Al Zayani added that the Ministry, in coordination with relevant authorities, will continue to monitor businesses who violate the guidelines, prompting all to abide by the guidelines for the sake of national responsibility, as a united team, Team Bahrain.
Later, the Public Security Chief Lietenant-General, HE Tariq Hassan Al Hassan, commended HM the King’s directives, along with the continued support provided by HRH the Crown Prince, and the Minister of Interior, HE General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, regarding guidelines and efforts introduced to contain the spread of COVID-19.
HE Al Hassan went on to praise the Kingdom’s values of solidarity, noting that this has been clearly exhibited by all. HE Al Hassan highlighted that volunteers who applied through the e-platofrm were contacted today to assist in disinfection efforts, adding that there are around 10,000 volunteers who have been designated for this particular role. HE Al Hassan noted the importance of disinfection and sterilization as a measure to ensure the eradication of the virus.
HE Al Hassan then announced the prevention of public gatherings of more than 5 individuals, adding that strict measures will be taken if these guidelines are not followed. HE Al Hassan further announced that gatherings in public parks and public beaches will also be prohibited, noting that all guidelines are introduced to safeguard the community. HE Al Hassan noted that authorities are working around the clock to ensure all guidelines are followed, and that the community police is overseeing a multilingual campaign to raise awareness about preventative measures and regulations to ensure residents across the Kingdom are fully informed.
HE Al Hassan reiterated the importance for all citizens and residents to ensure they receive information from verified sources.
The Infectious Diseases Consultant & Microbiologist at the BDF Hospital and Member of the National Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus, Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Manaf Al Qahtani, highlighted the Kingdom’s continued cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO), adding that the Kingdom has become the first Arab country to participate in the WHO’s solidarity trial, aimed at jumpstarting research for the establishment of a treatment designed to eradicate COVID-19.
Dr. Al Qahtani highlighted that the WHO has once again praised the Kingdom for the additional efforts and guidelines introduced to contain the spread of COVID-19, including its social distancing measures and contact tracing efforts.
Moving on to updates on active COVID-19 cases, Dr. Al Qahtani added that there are 183 active COVID-19 cases, and that all are stable except for three cases that are critical. Dr. Al Qahtani highlighted that 149 cases have been treated and discharged, and 250 individuals have left quarantines.
Dr. Al Qahtani emphasized that the information and details of all contacts of COVID-19 cases are being updated regularly on the Ministry of Health’s website.
Dr. Al Qahtani then announced that the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre will be a testing centre for COVID-19, and will be divided into a reception and classification area, three halls, a pharmacy and rapid treatment area. The first hall will be for testing purposes for contacts of active COVID-19 cases who are asymptomatic, and 400 seats will be available in the waiting area. The second hall will be a testing hall for contacts of active COVID-19 cases who are experiencing symptoms and will provide more than 400 seats in the waiting area, 250 beds, as well as resting areas. The third hall will be allocated for testing individuals arriving at Bahrain International Airport, and provides more than 400 seats, 250 beds, as well as a dining area.
Dr. Al Qahtani then provided details on testing contacts of active COVID-19 cases, adding that tests are conducted by a specialised medical team and examination mechanisms are classified as individuals arriving from abroad, individuals in contact with active COVID-19 cases who have arrived from abroad, and positive cases with an unknown source.
Dr. Al Qahtani noted that since the official announcement of cases linked to contacts of active COVID-19 on 19 March, the Ministry has tested 1,922 individuals, over a period of 4 days, and 31 cases returned positive only. Dr. Al Qahtani added that the Ministry continues its efforts in testing contacts of COVID-19 cases.
On this note, Dr. Al Qahtani reiterated the importance of all citizens and residents who have interacted with active COVID-19 cases to call 444, self-isolate and follow the health guidelines provided to them by a specialised medical team. Dr. Al Qahtani added that citizens and residents above the age of 70, as well as pregnant women, and immune comprised individuals are advised to practice social distancing as much as possible.
The Consultant of Infectious and Internal Diseases at Salmaniya Medical Complex, Dr. Jameela Al Salman, concluded by providing details on the current condition of active cases, noting all 183 total active COVID-19 cases are stable, with the exception of 3 cases that remain critical.
Dr. Al Salman noted that the 51-year-old Bahraini citizen who passed away today was an active COVID-19 patient with underlying medical issues. Dr. Al Salman added 149 cases have recovered and have been discharged from isolation, and 250 individuals have left quarantine after finishing the quarantine period and testing negative for the virus.
Dr. Al Salman noted that all active COVID-19 cases are receiving treatment from a specialised team following international guidelines and urged all citizens and residents to remember the importance of following the health guidelines issued by health authorities vigilantly.