Bahrain sets up team to combat new virus
Manama, May 22, 2013
Bahrain has set up a special taskforce to help prevent cases of a deadly SARS-like virus that has killed 16 people in neighbouring Saudi Arabia and infected more than 30 others.
The announcement came as top Health Ministry officials took part in an extraordinary meeting of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva to discuss global concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus yesterday, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
No suspected cases have been reported in Bahrain but health officials are not taking any chances with the infection, which can be passed between humans by prolonged, close contact.
"We have put contingency plans in place, to deal with the threat of corona virus in Bahrain, which is in line with the guidelines of the WHO and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the US," said ministry Under-Secretary Dr Aysha Mubarak Buaneq.
The taskforce will be headed by public health and primary care assistant under-secretary Dr Mariam Al Jalahma and includes officials from several ministry departments.
It plans to look into precautionary measures to help protect health workers from the risk of contracting the virus.
Dr Buaneq said the first phase of Bahrain's contingency plan included raising awareness about the infection, its symptoms and how to treat a suspected or any infected patient.
"The phase two of the plan includes dealing with suspected cases with acute inflammation of respiratory system," she said.
"Phase three of the contingency plan involves special procedures for all health staff in hospitals and health centres to collect samples from suspected patients and send them to the laboratory for analysis."
The final phase involves ways of dealing with families and relatives of patients infected by the virus.
Dr Buaneq said a form will be circulated at public hospitals to collect important information from patients in an attempt to detect suspected cases at an early stage.
"The King Hamad University Hospital, BDF Hospital and all the private hospitals will be updated on the contingency plans and protocol to immediately report suspected cases," she said.
Meanwhile, Dr Al Jalahma met officials from the executive board of the Health Ministers Council for GCC States on the sidelines of the WHO event and backed calls for a unified Gulf plan to prevent the spread of the infection.
People in Bahrain have been urged to regularly wash their hands, avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose and disinfect common surfaces as frequently as possible. – TradeArabia News Service