Coronavirus: how Dubai's Covid-19 command centre ensures critical care is delivered

The facility is key to the emirate's efforts to contain the spread of the virus

DUBAI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Ð July 24 , 2014 : Dr . Amer Ahmad Sharif , Managing Director , Education at Khalaf Al Habtoor Centre at Dubai Healthcare City in Dubai. ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For News. Story by Jen Bell

A Covid-19 command centre tasked with managing Dubai's response to the pandemic is ensuring urgent care is delivered to patients in most need.

The mammoth operation is bringing authorities together to boost efficiency and help safeguard lives amid major challenges for the health sector.

The command centre was set up following a decree by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the Crown Prince of Dubai.

Dr Amer Ahmad Sharif, head of Dubai’s Covid-19 Command and Control Centre, said the facility is proving to be key to the emirate's efforts to combat coronavirus.

"We believe and act upon the following statement, 'alone we can do so little; together we can do so much," Dr Sharif told The National.

“The Dubai Covid-19 Command and Control Centre created an integrated network to manage the Covid-19 situation in the emirate, and combat this global pandemic. This network consists of various public and private entities as well as non-healthcare facility providers who are operating around the clock.”

The centre works with the police, state security, ambulance services, the municipality, private health operators and volunteers to classify patients and channel treatment where most required.

“Through this network, we ease the pressure on hospitals and allow them to deal with the required cases they have,” he said.

“The objective behind this system is to increase the capacity of the healthcare system through a network of facilities and to ensure adequate and safe treatment of all patient categories.”

The centre has developed an assessment process in line with guidelines set out by the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority.

“From this assessment, a ‘patient journey’ was developed that identifies the type of facilities designated for each case definition,” Dr Sharif said.

Patients showing moderate symptoms of the coronavirus who need frequent medical observation and assistance are transported to the field hospital at the Dubai World Trade Centre. Wam

“According to these mechanisms, patients are classified into one of four categories: asymptomatic, mild, moderate and severe or critical.”

Once patients are screened in testing facilities, they are categorized and a care plan is devised by matching available spaces in field hospitals, isolation facilities and intensive care units of hospitals.

He said severe and critical patients who need specialised physicians and focused medical attention are transported to public and private hospitals.

Moderate cases requiring frequent and additional medical observation and assistance are transported to field hospitals in Dubai.

“Asymptomatic and mild cases require periodic medical observation and admission to institutionalised isolation facilities and the Emirates Field Hospital,” Dr Sharif said.

Emirates Field Hospital, located at Dubai Parks and Resorts, is one of two such facilities in the emirate.

Dubai's World Trade Centre was last month transformed into the Middle East's largest hospital, with the capacity to treat 3,000 patients.

He said seamless co-operation between the public and private sectors has helped manage the current situation.

Ensuring safety and wellbeing is one of the mandates of the command and control centre, Dr Sharif said.

“We’ve seen great initiatives by all parties because of their firm belief that they have a responsibility towards the country and the people and they are more than willing to work together,” he said.

The Warsan isolation facility is among the joint initiatives set up.

Dr Sharif said the unit provides care for confirmed positive patients who are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms.

“It provides medical care and is under constant supervision to ensure the health and safety of all patients,” he said.

Dr Sharif is also vice-chancellor of the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences.

The centre last month announced the UAE's first genetic blueprint of Covid-19, a genome sequencing of the virus from a patient in Dubai.

Any latest treatments, diagnostics and research to manage the pandemic are relayed by the centre to decision-makers.

Apart from unifying healthcare decisions, the centre works to ensure medical staff, equipment and supplies are available.

Each arm of the centre works with specialized taskforces from the health sector, researchers, economic and labour departments and transport authorities.

Dr Sharif said healthcare worker in Dubai have played a crucial role in helping to tackle the virus.

“Our frontline of defence, all doctors, nurses, paramedics and healthcare professionals are setting the highest levels of dedication and professionalism to ensure public safety by taking care of Covid-19 patients,” he said.

The “passionate” efforts of volunteers also protected the community.

“All their efforts and hard work is truly appreciated by the UAE’s leadership, as well as each and every individual of the community.”