Sunday, November 28, 2021

Qatar Coronavirus Updates -- Cases Up, Spreader Events, and Omicron Variant

Community cases in Qatar remain in the 100-150 range a day. Not great, better than most countries, but still too high for my liking. Hospitalizations are up slightly with about 90 people in hospital and 17 in ICU. No one has died in the past week or so.  

I can't see the number of cases decreasing any time soon because of two major events. As for many parts of the world there were Black Friday shopping events and the malls were PACKED. I forgot about Black Friday and tried to stop by a mall to pick up something. Parking was completely full and even the side streets near the mall were full of cars. I decided not to go in -- if the malls were that crowded it was just a super-spreader event waiting to happen.

Also the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup is in Qatar from November 30 to December 18 so I expect a lot of tourists and crowds at the stadiums and entertainment events.

The timing is unfortunate because there is a new Covid variant of concern, the Omicron variant, discovered in southern Africa. Countries have already stopped flights from that area but it might be too little too late as cases of the variant have been detected in the UK, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, Belgium and Australia. The Australian cases entered the country on a Qatar Airways flight from Doha, where they had transited from South Africa, so there is a chance Omicron is in Qatar now as well. Scientists will have better data after a few weeks but given the mutations in the Omicron variant they are expecting that vaccines will have reduced effectiveness. 

It will be an interesting few weeks as we see how this develops. Lockdowns and restrictions might be coming again.          

Monday, November 15, 2021

Qatar Coronavirus Updates – case rates, boosters, statistics

Community cases are steady at 100-120 a day. Hospitalizations are in the 90s now, a slight increase. I spoke with someone in the medical field and they told me that many of the cases were in kids due to schools being open -- but not all. Might be issues with vaccine effectiveness waning.

Which might explain why yesterday the Government announced they were moving forward the booster shot timing. Before you were eligible eight months after your second dose but they announced it will now be six months, a timing similar to other Western countries. I got my second dose in mid-June so I still have a month before I can get my booster. No word yet on when the vaccine will be approved for children aged 5-11 though.

As an aside I have been seeing various statistics regarding Qatar’s vaccination rate on websites, whether John Hopkins or CTV VaccineTracker, and they have Qatar’s rate too low (79-80%). The reason for this is they use population statistics that are old and based on projections of what Qatar’s population would be, rather than just going to the Qatar Government’s Planning and Statistics Authority to get the real number, which they update monthly. Granted, these websites don’t have time to update population stats for the 200+ countries in the world but they are using a population of 2.8m and it’s actually around 2.6m, which makes a big difference.

Per the Ministry of Public Health, 84.8% of the population of Qatar has had both doses of a vaccine. It’s likely why case rates are still really low compared to the US, UK, and many other countries in Europe.

Interesting update on travel, the UK was recently added to Qatar’s “red list” for travel. Not good news for Brits. I wasn’t planning on going there anytime soon anyway though.

Well, guess I'll just chill and wait for the latest wave in Europe to calm down. It'll be nice when I get a booster shot though.


Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Qatar Coronavirus Updates – Cases Rising Again

Worrying developments as cases have been slowly creeping up over the last few weeks.  In the last couple of days there been more than 100 community transmissions a day, and yesterday one person passed away.  Hospitalizations are up into the 60s now (from a low in the 40s) but the number in the ICU is stable at around 11-13.

Unfortunately the Government doesn’t publish age breakdowns of the cases.  Is it mostly among kids because they’re back in school? Amongst older people for whom the vaccine effectiveness is starting to lessen? I don’t know.

If the trend continues I expect various restrictions to be back in place but I’m not sure to what extent. The FIFA Arab Cup starts in Doha at the end of the month and tens of thousands of fans are expected (especially from Saudi Arabia) so I doubt the Government will go into lockdowns. The addition of tourists for the event is not going to help things though and cases will likely increase further.

Per capita cases are still low compared to most Western countries but it’s not a good sign heading into the new year.