Friday, July 08, 2022

Qatar Coronavirus Updates -- Masks Restrictions Back in Place

As I expected the Government has put some restrictions back in place. Masks are now required at indoor public places. People were generally good at wearing masks in places like malls anyway but as it was not required there was the odd person not wearing one.

I guess after two years I have gotten used to seeing everyone wearing masks, and it was a bit surprising to enter the elevator at the office recently and see someone not wearing a mask. Well, everyone has to wear masks now.

The increase in restrictions is due to the rapid spread of the BA.4 and BA.5 variants of Omicron. Community cases in Qatar are now at 600-700 a day, over 80 people are in hospital (none in ICU however) and another person died last week. A lot of people are coming down with it. I plan to go on vacation soon so I think for the next bit I will 'hunker down' so that my trip isn't postponed because I got sick just before I was supposed to leave.

It is also the Eid holiday starting on Sunday and the first thing Muslims do for Eid is visit relatives, that means a lot of going from house to house to visit grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.  The Government is also sponsoring festivities for the holidays. Which means lots of crowds and lots of meeting people. I expect a spike in cases from about the 12th to the 20th, which is worrisome. Not to mention tens of thousands of people have crowded the airport the last couple of days getting flights out, and the flights are PACKED. I'm sure many of them will come down with Covid shortly.

I'm glad it's a holiday, and I'm glad the Government has recognized that restrictions are needed, but I'm expecting this will get way worse before it gets better.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Qatar Coronavirus Updates -- With Relaxed Restrictions Comes More Cases

Qatar has relaxed almost all restrictions now. You do need to show your Ethteraz app to enter places but mask-wearing is not enforced (many people still wear them but it's optional). Things have apparently become so mellow that the Qatar health authorities have moved to reporting cases and other information weekly instead of daily.

And . . . cases are going up. Not a surprise I suppose with the looser restrictions and that highly contagious Omicron variants spreading around. From around 150 community cases a day, it went to around 240 a day (the weekly report gives the daily average) and now its around 320 a day. That's a lot, and a bit worrisome.  However there is no one in the ICU and no one has died. I think the last time someone in Qatar passed away from Covid was about three months ago. Hospitalizations are steady in the 25-35 range but it looks like most spend a couple of days in hospital before they are discharged. 

Despite the increase in cases there is no word on any restrictions being put back in place, I suspect as long as the hospitalizations are steady, and there is not an uptick in severe cases, then the Government will leave things as they are. But if it starts getting to 500+ cases a day they might reconsider.

I'm still being careful, I certainly don't want to get Covid again. My last booster was at the end of December so the protection must be waning. Time to look at getting my booster dose before Eid in July.


Friday, May 13, 2022

Qatar Coronavirus Updates - Cases Increasing

Recently got back from Eid Vacation, I'll post about that later. 

Discouraged to see that cases are rising again in Qatar, I am guessing it's due to those new Omicron variants going around (I think they are called B.A.4 and B.A.5, or maybe it's the one in America, B.A.2.1.2 or something like that). After a brief period of community cases under 100 a day Qatar is now consistently back to around 120-150 cases a day. Hospitalizations are also steady at around 30 with 1-2 people in the ICU. Thankfully no deaths, I think it's been almost two months since someone died from Covid here.

It also means that the restrictions in Qatar are the same as before with little change. It is changing in other countries, such as in the EU, but here you still have to get a rapid test when you return from a trip, and show your tracker app to enter buildings. Mask wearing is also still mandatory indoors and for the most part people have been good about it, not as vigilant as before but pretty good. We'll have to see how this develops over the next few weeks, cases are on the rise in Canada and the US so there's no reason to expect it won't happen here.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

A New Mall - the Vendome

 [Coronavirus cases are hovering around 100 a day, some days less than a 100, others more. Hospitalizations are under 30 and only one person is in the ICU]

So a new mall just had its soft opening yesterday, the new Vendome Mall in Lusail. You can look it up on Google Maps -- it is HUGE.

As it was a soft opening maybe 20-25% of the shops were open but almost all of the areas of the mall were open and tons of people were roaming around to check out the mall. One thing of note is the massive fountain area in the middle of the mall.

And with the mall being three stories in some areas they went with high ceilings and lots of glass.

The supermarket is a Monoprix.

I didn't take pictures of all the other stores because it is a soft opening, and most of the stores that are open are ones you can find in other malls. It will be a while later before the unique shops open. I will note that there were a lot of luxury stores (Jimmy Choo, Dior, Burberry, etc etc,) so there is yet another mall to compete with the luxury shops in other places. Not sure how that will pan out, I suspect some luxury stores in other parts of the city will close up.

While the pictures look nice there was a lack of seating everywhere. Huge wide hallways but no seats. I can only assume that will be coming later because you need to have places for people to sit down. It was weird wandering around and not having anywhere to sit down.

The mall looks beautiful and will be a welcome addition to the new Lusail neighbourhood. Glad it will be finished in time for the World Cup.

Saturday, April 02, 2022

Ramadan Kareem!

It's Ramadan, the announcement was made last night.  Time for a month of fasting from first light (~4am) until sunset at around 6pm. 

Spent the last week decaffinating, slowing weaning myself off of coffee, otherwise I would get a massive headache the first day.  It was also weird putting food and water on my nightstand so that I could eat something quickly at 3:30am before going back to sleep.

It will be nice to enjoy Ramadan festivities again, due to Covid I was home for the last two Ramadans, either because of lockdown or because I was keeping myself safe by limiting how much I went out. But things have settled down here, cases are around 100-ish a day, and so it'll be nice to get out an enjoy the month. Already planning to stop by a friend's majlis at 9pm, that's when the Ramadan prayers (Tarawih) end and things start happening in the country. From around 9pm until 2am or so everyone is out and about, visiting friends, shopping, doing errands, whatever.

Here's hoping we all have a happy, mellow Ramadan.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Qatar Coronavirus Updates -- Frustratingly Stable, oh and Canada is in the World Cup

Over the last two weeks I watched, waiting for the numbers to steadily drop below 100, maybe even below 50 cases a day, but it didn't happen. On average there are around 120-150 community cases a day and it has just stayed there. I'm not sure why it has levelled off there. The good news is the hospitalizations are minimal, now there are fewer than 30 people in hospital and only one in the ICU. No one has died of Covid in the last two weeks. 

With that the Government has relaxed most restrictions. Masks should still be worn indoors, and you need to show the Ehteraz tracking app to go into many places, but travelers now need to do a simple rapid test after landing, no need to do a PCR before coming to the country, and overall the country has moved on -- basically considering the pandemic over. Mask wearing is getting more haphazard and people don't take things as seriously anymore. Even in my office building they removed the restrictions on how many people can be in the elevator at once, or in a meeting room. Other countries are doing the same, apparently you don't need to get tested to enter Saudi anymore, and the same with Turkiye (i.e. Turkey, the Turkish Government has recently requested that the English-speaking world stop calling their country Turkey and instead say/spell it like they do, Turkiye).

Now on to great news -- Canada has officially qualified for the 2022 World Cup being held here in Qatar! It is only the second time Canada will play in the World Cup, the last time being in 1986. I hope to see their games. Now I need to try to get tickets...


Friday, March 11, 2022

Qatar Coronavirus Updates -- Omicron wave is over

Cases are now back to a level before the Omicron wave, today there were 116 community cases, and it has been under 200 a day for the last week. There is still the odd death, about four this week, but there's now only 26 people in hospital and 10 in the ICU, a far cry from two months ago when people were swarming testing centres and hospitals were filling up.

Qatar has announced further relaxing of restrictions, both for travel and while in the country. Masks are still required indoors, and the Ehteraz tracking app will need to be shown to enter buildings, but otherwise there are few restrictions anymore. Even travel restrictions are easy. Unless you came in from a 'red list' country (and there's only nine on the list) you don't need to do a pre-test to enter Qatar and on arrival do a rapid test within 24 hours. That's it. Well, if you're vaccinated that is, if you're unvaccinated then the process is trickier but you know what -- if you're an adult and don't have a valid medical reason for not being vaccinated then I have no sympathy about how restrictions inconvenience your life. If you have a Reddit account feel free to hang out on r/HermanCainAward to see how not being vaccinated can impact both yours and your family's life.

With no new variants on the horizon we might well be near a point where the pandemic is essentially over, at least for the time being. It'll be nice to travel without worrying too much about Covid. Looking forward to it in fact. I just got back from a trip to Turkey but I was still careful the whole time.