Monday, April 26, 2021

Qatar Coronavirus Updates -- Possibly Reached the Peak of the Second Wave

Community cases are starting to ease, they are now at around 500 a day and the number of people recovering is outpacing the number of new cases.  It is still a challenging time, over 1000 people are in hospital and hundreds are in ICU.

The new strains of COVID are quite scary in just how deadly they are.  At the height of the pandemic last year, now known as the first wave, around 4-7 people were dying every day and there were over 2000 cases a day. Now Qatar has not even reached 1000 cases a day yet 5-10 people die every day of COVID. And it is affecting younger people as well, every day when I look at the government press release about the deaths I know that I will see ages in the 40s to 50s, sometimes even in the 30s. COVID is now less of a disease that primarily impacts people over the age of 65 and more something that puts people over the age of 40 at risk. Really scary.

Because of the restrictions there's not much happening this Ramadan, I miss seeing the Ramadan Cannon and attending other festivities as this will be the second Ramadan under lockdown restrictions, but catching COVID is just not worth it so the government is doing the right thing.

Like everyone I'm just getting tired of this and so wish things were back to normal. We're so close though. Hopefully after this wave subsides the vaccination program will reach most of the population. If only vaccination had started a month or two earlier this wave might not have even happened.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Ramadan Kareem!

Ramadan has started. Unfortunately with all the recent troubles with COVID and the lockdowns it hasn’t been much of festive atmosphere here. Given last year during Ramadan I was almost completely locked down in my apartment I suppose just being able to go out is a step up. The start of the pandemic seems so long ago it is hard to believe it has been just a little over a year.


I did decaffeinate in preparation for Ramadan as I always do and, as usual, I will be fasting. The first day was tough, I don’t think I drank enough water beforehand so by the late afternoon I was really lethargic and had a headache. I made a conscious effort to drink a lot more water today (does 3:30am count as ‘today?).


I am not sure what the general population are going to do given the COVID restrictions. Only family members from one household can meet indoors, and if you are outside the limit for meeting is five unrelated people – and all five of them must be vaccinated. That means no visits to friends and relatives. Mosques have strict opening and closing times to prevent people from hanging around, and are not allowed to hold tarawih prayers, a special set of prayers held during Ramadan after the evening Isha prayer. Offices are at 50% with the rest expected to work from home, less strict than last year (30%) but that still means working from home some days. Most stores are shut. I expect all of these restrictions will remain in place throughout Ramadan. Qatar is still reporting over 900 cases of COVID a day, although recent numbers seem to show that fewer of them are community transmissions and more are from travelers in quarantine, yesterday 250 of the cases were from travelers. Who are all of these people travelling right now that in one day 250 people would test positive in Qatar?! Stop travelling everyone!


Today I received a Ramadan dinner from a Qatari gentleman, the father of a friend of mine. Every day during Ramadan he does dozens and dozens of meals that he distributes to others and last year he invited me to take one home every day and it would be rude to refuse the hospitality. Today it was . . .



A meat/bread pudding, coconut cake for desert, and what looks like brownish mashed potatoes is actually haris, a ground grain mixed with a bit of meat. Qatari cooking doesn't go too heavy on vegetables though so I added those myself, cooking up some beans and miscellaneous veggies.

Now there was WAY too much food for just me to eat in a day (what you see in the photo is maybe a fifth of it), and I will be receiving a meal every day during Ramadan, so I take some for myself and share the rest with the security guards in my apartment building. I will be fine for meals all month.

Please stay safe everyone.


Friday, April 09, 2021

Qatar Coronavirus Updates -- Over 900 Cases a Day and New Restrictions

As feared things are getting worse, cases are over 900 a day, and deaths have been increasing. The other day eight people died of the virus, sadly a new one-day record since the pandemic started. It is likely due to the highly contagious UK strain.

The Government held a press conference to outline new restrictions: restaurants take-out and delivery only, 50% capacity in offices, metro restrictions, total ban on functions like weddings etc. Outdoor meeting of five people or less and only if they are from the same family or all have been vaccinated. It's tough restrictions but not as harsh as during the first wave last year. One of the Government's concerns is not just the numbers but how they are seeing more hospitalizations of younger people. This is also playing out with the deaths, it seems like there are a lot more in their 30s and 40s than before.

Vaccine distribution is still going well, at around 25 thousand doses a day. The Government estimates that at least 25% of the adult population have received at least one dose. My estimate is it will increase by almost 1% every two days. If Qatar just gets through this lockdown, likely to last through the month of Ramadan (which starts next week), then I think we'll be through the worst of it and the case rates will rapidly drop.

So it looks like I'm mostly working from home again. Stay safe everyone, we're almost through it.