The biggest festival to take place in the country since the start of the coronavirus pandemic has raised concerns as second COVID-19 wave seems imminent.
Organisers of the Al Khor Carnival have announced that they would be closing their doors until further notice.
Due to the large area of AlKhor Carnival, the sterilization process will continue and the closure will be extended until further notice for the sake of your safety and everyone's safety #alkhorcarnival
— carnivalalkhor (@carnivalalkhor) January 31, 2021
On Friday the event’s officials had said that the festival was going to temporarily close only for one day for sanitisation, dismissing claims that the temporary closure was due to the spread of COVID-19 cases.
“Due to the high demand at Carnival Al Khor and for the safety of all, the carnival management decided to sterilize the site on Saturday, January 30th, and will resume on Sunday, January 31 for public,” said the festival’s organisers in a statement.
Speculation surrounding the reasons behind the closure of the festival came amid wide criticism of the decision to let the event go ahead in light of the surge in positive cases over the past few weeks. That criticism increased when images began circulating showing a large number of visitors not abiding by safety measures or social distancing regulations.
والله #كورونا يصفق لكم ويقول براڤو عليكم انعشتوني😒
واليوم مغلق في إطار التدابير الاحترازية …؟!
يعني ما كان له داعي من الأساس إقامة هذه الفعالية والدولة تُكثف جهودها لإعادة احتواء #فيروس_كورونا @MOPHQatar pic.twitter.com/zcuhfIfYNZ
— شريفه المهندي (@ShThakira) January 30, 2021
Fear of a second wave
The local outrage also comes due to heightened concerns over a second wave hitting the country as the daily numbers of cases have doubled within less than a month.
According to the Ministry of Public Health [MoPH], Qatar saw an 85% increase in COVID-19 cases being admitted to the hospital in comparison to previous month.
Although health officials had previously declared that Qatar had avoided a second wave of the coronavirus infections, the notable rise in statistics suggests otherwise, with over 5,000 active cases in the country—last month, the total number of active cases was below 2000.
In a televised press conference on Thursday, Dr. Hamad Eid Al Romaihi, Head of Surveillance and Outbreak Control, said that there are currently signs of a possible second wave, albeit the country not entering one yet.
During the same press conference, Chair of the National Health Strategic Group on COVID-19 and Head of Infectious Diseases at Hamad Medical Corporation [HMC] warned of a second lockdown that will be implemented for two weeks if the number of cases continue to rise.
Health officials stated that the main reason behind the hundreds of daily cases being reported among community members is mainly due to what many described as “caution fatigue”, a phenomenon caused by people’s lack of adherence to COVID-19 measures in place especially amid news of vaccine production.
Authorities have called on residents and citizens to comply with the safety measures in place, with people rallying on social media to call community members to wear their masks using the hashtag #انا_ملتزم_بالكمامه [#I_Will_Keep_Wearing_A_Mask].