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Qatar tribune
Tribune News Network
Random COVID-19 tests will be carried out on students going back to schools in September, Co-Chair of Qatar’s National Pandemic Preparedness Committee Dr Abdullatif Al Khal said in Doha on Monday.
Qatar will start its three-phased plan to gradually bring students back to schools from September 1.
Dr Khal said the COVID-19 tests done on 98.5 percent of the teachers and other school employees returned negative.
Qatar has seen a significant decline in new COVID-19 infections since the beginning of June, he said, adding that infection rates stabilized at the end of July.
“Then, we witnessed an increase in the number of infection in the first half of August and then the numbers began to decrease in the past few days.”
He attributed the success in reining in the virus to preventive measures taken by the government and public cooperation.
Indicators show a slight decrease in new infections in the past two weeks, despite an increase in the number of daily examinations, he added.
The rate of infection per hundred examinations in August ranged between 1 and 2, which is a low rate, he said.
Qatar is among the countries that conduct the highest number of COVID-19 tests in the world in per capita and this will go on in the fourth phase of lifting the pandemic restrictions as well.
Qatar started lifting the restrictions it imposed to contain the spread of the virus in phased manner on June 15 and is currently in the fourth phase, which began on September 1. 
Dr Khal said most of the newly-recorded COVID-19 cases were among family members. 
“The virus will not disappear for the time being but people should continue to coexist with it while taking preventive and precautionary measures,” he said.
As soon as a vaccine is available, Qatar will make in available for the public, he said.
“There is a lot of optimism, that a safe and effective vaccination will be available at the end of this year or the beginning of the next year, and it will be provided to all citizens and residents, and then we can actually return to normal life if most or all members of society take the vaccination,” he said.
“It is very easy to avoid the virus, if every member of the community is committed to wearing a mask and maintaining a safe distance of at least 1.5 metre from one another, especially during family visits, social meetings. Maintaining hand hygiene and adherence to other precautionary measures are equally important,” he cautioned.
Dr Khal noted that further easing or ramping up of restrictions will depend on infection indicators that are monitored on a daily basis and reviewed weekly by Ministry of Public Health officials.

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