Sunday, August 23, 2020

Qatar Coronavirus Updates -- No Second Spike (so far)

It has been three weeks since Eid ended and there has been no evidence of a sharp increase in cases. Things are holding steady at around 230-290 cases a day, it could be better but at least it hasn't become worse. Unfortunately people here are being pretty laid-back about it now, in March when over 200 cases was first reported it was a huge deal and people were very concerned, now people are just going on with their lives. At least restaurants and malls are still strict about mask wearing and temperature scans. Most restaurants aren't open for dine-in either, take-away and delivery is standard for almost all of them now but many do not allow you to eat inside. 

While there was talk of the Government delaying moving to Phase 4 (currently scheduled for September 1st) there have been no announcements. I realize it has been almost six months but people need to still take things seriously. There are still hundreds of people in hospital, over 60 in ICU, and people are still dying from the virus. Until such time as there is a vaccine precautions are always going to be needed. Today was around 280 cases, or about 100 cases per 1,000,000 people. It doesn't seem like a lot but that is higher than most countries. Yesterday the UK reported 19 per million, Spain 78, Canada 7, and in the US, which everyone considers to be a complete basket case of COVID, it was 134. The population of Qatar is roughly the same as the city of Vancouver and if Vancouver reported over 200 cases a day they'd be shutting things down.

The Government is hopeful for a vaccine by the end of the year and is already planning the acquisition and distribution should one be available. I am a bit skeptical of something by the end of the year, especially if it is that vaccine announced out-of-the-blue by Russia.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Qatar Coronavirus Updates -- possibly a second wave?

The last few weeks saw a gradual decline in cases but now they, at first glance, appear to be increasing. People are already discussing a second wave. I thought so at first as well but looking at the numbers now I am not sure if it is a significant trend.

The issue is the Eid Al-Adha holiday, which started on July 31st. If we look at the daily case rate in Qatar over the last three weeks, starting at July 23rd:


23: 373 

24: 394

25: 398

26: 269

27: 292

28: 283

29: 273

30: 307

then it's the Eid break

31: 235

1: 216

2: 196

3: 215

4: 216

then Eid break is over

5: 267

6: 287

7: 291

8: 267

9: 297

10: 315

11: 384

12: 292

13: 343

14: 251

There's definitely an increase from the 9th-13th when you compare it to the lowest segment, during Eid, but given that the lowest numbers happen to occur during a major holiday makes me wonder if the fact that it was a holiday explains the drop in cases. People might have been less inclined to go for testing, maybe contact tracing efforts slowed down as staff were on holiday, who knows. It does seem like an odd coincidence though.

The last five days are comparable to mid-late July so it might be that Qatar is just continuing on its curve flattening. If you ignore the Eid numbers it seems reasonably consistent.

Now in earlier blog posts I noted my concern that the Eid holiday would result in an increase in cases as people socialized over the holiday. It is now 10 days after the last Eid day so an increase in cases should be seen now. That might account for the slight increase we are seeing. If that's all the increase then it is a lot better than I thought it could be, I was worried post-Eid we would see a big spike. Today looks pretty good so there might not be a spike after all.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Qatar Coronavirus Updates -- and Eid Updates

So it is the middle of the Eid holiday (for most at least, banks and other financial services opened today) and I am not so sure about how strictly people are social distancing. At least shops and malls are doing a good job of making sure people wear masks and show their Etheraz app to show that they are not a suspected case of COVID-19. I sure hope the barber shops were being careful, getting a haircut is a standard thing to do for Eid and the barbershops were sure to be busy. I'm not planning to go for at least two more weeks, chances are the barbers will catch coronavirus but many will not have symptoms. They would be fine in a couple of weeks though.

On Monday I did something that I haven't done for almost five months -- go to a restaurant. As of August 1st restaurants can do limited indoor seating and some friends wanted to meet for breakfast so I figured I would give it a try as I did not expect the place to be busy. I was correct, we were the only table for most of the time there. A couple showed up later and were seated at the opposite end of the restaurant. The restaurant was strict on procedure, they took everybody's temperature, looked at our Etheraz apps, and wrote down our names and ID before allowing us in. Waiters were heavily masked up and had face shields. I only ordered cooked foods, though now that I think about most breakfast items in a restaurant are cooked. We didn't have coffee though as afterwards the guys wanted to go to a nice cafe they knew in the Musherib district. Again we had our temperatures taken and had to show our Etheraz app. Again we were the only people seated, though others did show up to get coffee to go.

As for COVID-19. Qatar has been hovering in the 200-ish cases a day now. Some days more than 200 but other days fewer than 200. Qatar is still not on the EU travel list but I'm wondering if they'll be included when the list is reviewed next week. Maybe not though, there are still around 3,000 active cases in Qatar. I'm also worried about a post-Eid second spike with all the social visits and crowds at barbers.