Bahrain provides a safe haven for F1 as it withstands Covid crisis

British Conservative MP pays tribute to the Gulf state's effective coronavirus strategy

As F1 teams and race media descend on Bahrain for two weekends of high energy racing, it is worth taking a moment to reflect on how the island Kingdom has dealt with the unique challenges of Covid-19.

Doing so may provide pointers for others and give us some context to assess Bahrain’s approach to wider issues and developments.

It is fair to say that the response from both teams and media to Bahrain’s Covid testing system has been overwhelmingly positive.

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This high-tech, professional and efficient approach has typified Bahrain's response from the earliest days of the pandemic.

Former F1 driver Karun Chandok described it as “by far the slickest” of any host country this season, a sentiment widely echoed by others through social media.

On arrival, all visitors are promptly and courteously tested by medical personnel, before heading to their hotels where, within a matter of hours, an app informs them of their test results.

The system has been robust enough to handle multiple F1 flights landing within minutes of each other, and negative test results were delivered swiftly. Late-night arrivals were able to start work when they awoke in the morning.

This high-tech, professional and efficient approach has typified Bahrain's response from the earliest days of the pandemic. The government-led effort has been there for all the country's residents, regardless of nationality, race or income, with free treatment provided to any who need it.

Further, Bahrain has ensured that its migrant workforce has access to alternative accommodation, which complies with social distancing guidelines. In addition, a wide-ranging package of economic support measures has been on offer and the government has provided thousands of free meals to low-income workers affected by the need to self-isolate.

Bahrain’s compassionate, humanitarian response to the pandemic is consistent with its national values and desire to protect the rights and welfare of its citizens and residents.

The efforts the country has dedicated towards combating the ongoing pandemic have been recognised as world-class by international experts.

The country has been recognised by the World Health Organisation, and its successful testing, tracing, and treating, with very low mortality rates, recording among the highest testing in the world per million people.

A good indicator of a society’s appreciation of human dignity is how it treats the most vulnerable members in times of crisis. Bahrain has achieved Tier 1 status in the US State Department’s Tracking in Person for three consecutive years.

It has set a high standard for the region to emulate – with free testing, healthcare and warm meals for those in self-isolation, with economic support available to all, nationals and foreign nationals alike.

Bahrain’s compassionate, humanitarian response to the pandemic is of a piece with its desire to protect the rights and welfare of its citizens and residents more generally.

This commitment has been manifested in all manner of ways. Namely, the work of country’s independent and effective oversight agencies is a clear practical demonstration of its desire to uphold the highest standards of rights protection, and to address and correct any shortcomings.

Oversight bodies such as the police and prisoner ombudsman are unique in the region. It has a seven-year track record of cases and public reports.

The Bahraini Government has always engaged actively and openly with the cases that are raised and supplies detailed information and statements to guarantee transparency.

Col Bob Stewart is a Conservative member of parliament and former army officer.