Qatar reported the highest number of daily Covid-19 cases in its history on Tuesday when more than 4000 tests registered positive.
As tens of thousands head to health centres to test daily, many people are complaining that their Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) results are not being reflected on Ehteraz, restricting their movement or presenting a risk on the wider community.
Despite health officials stating that the results of RAT’s taken at private facilities would be reflected on the Ehteraz application within 4 hours — many people have reported that despite their tests coming back positive, their Ehteraz status remained green.
One Qatar based social media influencer posted a screenshot of her Ehteraz yellow status despite taking two PCR tests that confirmed she was negative.
“I’ve been dealing with this problem since . I did two tests and both of them came out negative and still. I called them and they keep saying we’re gonna solve the issue but the Ehteraz is still yellow,” the influencer wrote on Wednesday.
“Now I will do a third Rapid test and after that a PCR in the hopes that my Ehteraz turns green.”
Local news outlet The Peninsula reported that a number of their staff have tested positive yet their Ehteraz remains green.
A reader wrote to the newspaper saying, “If private clinic tests are not reflected then there is an increased chance of some people misusing the green Ehteraz.”
Meanwhile, others have also complained that despite being fully vaccinated, the golden frame does not show on the app, thus restricting their movements. One resident told Doha News that he was refused entry to a mall because he did not have the gold frame, despite providing the security with a valid vaccination certificate and having taken his second dose within the past 6 months.
The resident called Ehteraz service number a couple of times, but his application is yet to be updated.
Spike in Cases
Qatar has been witnessing a significant spike in Covid-19 cases over the past month. The alarming rise in infections is attributed to the emergence of the fast-spreading Omicron variant, causing thousands to be infected a day.
On Tuesday, the Gulf country reported its highest cases per day since the start of the pandemic, 4,169 cases, and the rate is expected to further increase. More than 30,000 people get tested per day, pushing critics to question whether the official number actually reflects reality.
However, ICU admissions remain low— statistics health officials attributed to the huge vaccination drive.
“Almost all patients admitted to intensive care units are either unvaccinated or had their second dose of the vaccine more than 6 months ago. It is noteworthy that there have been almost no ICU admissions among those who received their booster dose,” said Dr Abdullatif Al Khal, Chair of the National Health Strategic Group on COVID-19 and Head of Infectious Diseases at Hamad Medical Corporation.
To date, Qatar has administered over 368,000 booster vaccine doses to the public.
“The high level of immunity offered by the vaccines is obvious when it comes to COVID-19 patients who are experiencing the most severe symptoms, he added, revealing that the seven recent Covid-19 deaths were not vaccinated prior to their passing.
Qatar’s ministry of health has stated that the country has enough beds in its facilities to accommodate the growing and fast-spreading number of positive Omicron cases.
“A large number of beds are in reserve in the existing dedicated facilities for Coronavirus patients, apart from those full-fledged facilities which are ready to open any time in case of need,” said Chairman of HMC’s Department of Internal Medicine Dr. Ahmed Al Mohammed.
Speaking on Qatar TV, another health official announced that three facilities have been dedicated by the ministry to Covid-19 patients to accommodate the recent spike, the Communicable Disease Center (CDC), The Cuban Hospital, and Hazm Mebaireek General Hospital with a large number of ICU beds.
“This is part of the preparation, there are many more steps and plans for expanding the facilities in future if needs be,” said Dr. Mohammed on Qatar TV, adding that the third wave saw a significant rise in infection among kids due to not being eligible for the vaccine.
This pushed authorities to also dedicated a special pediatric facility in Al Wakra for confirmed positive cases among children to ensure adequate care is provided.
“The new facility called Al Maha Center under Al Wakra Hospital with the capacity of 50 beds in general conditions and 24 beds for medical observation and four beds for ICU,” said Dr. Mohammed.
If needed, the facility can accommodate up to 140 beds.
“Our focus is to provide enough beds to accommodate all COVID-19 patients in all stages regardless of their age and medical condition who required admission in general wards or ICUs. We assure to have enough beds in reserve for any sudden unexpected spike in cases. We are moving on this plan amid growing cases of Coronavirus in the country.”
The official added that the number of hospital admissions is also expected to grow in the upcoming days, given the rise in cases, but the healthcare system is ‘ready’ to accommodate such a spike.