Qatar World Cup: all Covid-19 precautions taken, say authorities

Health professionals given special training to prepare for influx of 1.5 million football fans

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Health authorities in Qatar say they are fully prepared ahead of the World Cup that kicks off in November – the biggest global event since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Currently, there are 102 people in hospital with Covid-19 in Qatar – four in intensive care – and there have been 682 deaths in the country since the outbreak began, according to Qatar's ministry of health.

In less than two months, Doha will be flooded with more than 1.5 million supporters from all over the world. But after three years of planning, health authorities insist they are ready for any eventuality.

“Mega sports events like the World Cup are attended by significant numbers of people which has the potential to strain public health and response resources of the host nation or community,” said Dr Hamad Al Romaihi, director of the Health Protection and Communicable Disease Control Department in Doha.

“Preparation is critical to any effective health security plan and Qatar’s healthcare sector has undergone remarkable transformation in recent years.

“We have placed great importance on building a strong, highly skilled team of health-care professionals across the system to lead the delivery of high-quality care to Qatar’s population.

“All football fans visiting Qatar for the FIFA World Cup can be reassured that, if needed, they will receive healthcare services from Hamid Medical Centre teams on par with the very highest international standards.”

All World Cup visitors, workers, players and technical staff must be fully vaccinated in order to attend the tournament.

International travellers are advised to check the latest FIFA advice and follow Qatar's Ministry of Public Health guidelines, prior to departure.

Qatar’s healthcare sector has significantly grown in the past decade.

In the public sector, ten hospitals and 16 primary health centres have opened since 2010.

The national ambulance service has also expanded, and the region’s largest trauma and emergency centre opened in 2019.

This year, health authorities in Qatar collaborated with the World Health Organisation to run a series of workshops and simulated exercises ahead of the World Cup to prepare health workers for the influx of fans.

“Lessons learned during last year’s Arab Cup have shown us that mass gatherings can be successfully delivered if properly managed, but they can never be zero risk,” said Dr Rayana Ahmad Bou Haka, the WHO’s representative to Qatar.

“Still, associated risk can be decreased by applying tailored, event-specific precautionary measures to the venues, the participants, and the context in which the event takes place, within a general reinforcement of surveillance and public health measures implemented in the host country,” she said.

Updated: September 24, 2022, 1:18 PM