“Since Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) was assigned by the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) late in March 2020 to operate the Mekaines quarantine and isolation facility for workers, it has received around 50,000 workers, including 12,000 suspected cases and 38,000 confirmed cases,” said Dr. Hassan Ali Kassem, Chief Medical Officer of QRCS’s Medical Affairs Division.
“The medical services at Mekaines start at the very point when the guests arrive by buses to the reception point, which is open 24/7,” he explained. “It is a large, well-protected hall designed to receive the new patients. The medical staff there register the personal data of guests into the system and make the triage process according to certain criteria to determine who is to be admitted and who are to be referred to other isolation places for more specialized medical care. These criteria include age, chronic diseases (such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiothoracic problems, renal failure, or autoimmune disorders), and severe respiratory symptoms like difficulty breathing or acute cough. Everything is coordinated with the COVID-19 System Wide Incident Command Committee (SWICC).
“We make sure that every patient has Ehteraz App on his smartphone. For those who do not, we help them to download and install it. We also double-check the swab results to make sure that all of them are positive. Then, each patient is given a hygiene kit and a card with block number, villa number, and room number. Finally, the new admissions are transported by buses to their accommodations at the Red Zone.
“To respect the cultural and religious backgrounds of the patients, every patient is asked about his preferable diet (vegetarian, Asian, Arabic, etc.) and rituals of worship. Those with similar nationalities are accommodated together, to ensure familiarity and socialization.
“The accommodation period is 14 days on average. Each block is divided into four zones, each with a medical clinic where a GP and nurse are stationed to make regular examinations for patients at the Red Zone. The medical professionals wear full personal protective equipment (PPE), and all the medical devices and consumables remain inside the clinic. Medical examinations and medicines are given to the patients for free.
“In case of emergency, there is a phone and WhatsApp number that can be used by the patients to call the doctor 24/7. Or they can call the hotline 16006 or talk to the nearest guard at the zone’s gate.
“As regards psychological support and health education, a specialized team holds daily activities to improve the morale of the quarantined guests. As per the SWICC instructions, a list of those eligible for discharge is prepared on a day-to-day basis, after making sure that they have completed 14 days in isolation, are in good health, and have Ehteraz App activated. Every day in the afternoon, the discharged workers are transported by buses to their respective homes, where they are required to stay in self-isolation for additional seven days. After that, they can resume their normal lives.
“The Mekaines began with small numbers (around 3,000 guests) and expanded gradually to accommodate at some point as many as 12,000 quarantine persons. First, it had been intended for quarantine, but early in May, it was transformed into an isolation center for confirmed infections. To meet the increasing demand, QRCS brought around 150 physicians, nurses, and technicians to provide medical services at Mekaines.
“I would like to thank those who supported us in this great work, including MOPH; Hamad Medical Corporation (MHC); the Ministry of Interior (MOI); the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour, and Social Affairs; government organizations; NGOs; companies; and individuals. This could only happen with the efforts of all QRCS staff and volunteers, who were dedicated enough to stay at Mekaines all the time to meet the needs of the inmates,” Dr. Kassem concluded.