Qatar details World Cup preparation for health emergencies

A woman wipes away tears as she pays tribute to the victims of a fatal accident during Saturday night’s Halloween festivities at a makeshift flower lay area set up near the crash site in Seoul, South Korea , Wednesday, November 2. , 2022.

Public health experts in Qatar explained _ in an online briefing organized by the Geneva-based World Health Organization _ their preparations for a tournament which is expected to attract at least 1.2 million visitors to the small emirate.

“Surprises do happen, but we are prepared as much as humanly possible for such events,” said Dr Soha Al Bayat from the Qatari Ministry of Public Health.

“There have been events that have happened recently in other countries where there have been injuries and there have been casualties, so of course we keep that in mind,” he said. she stated.

Public health experts describe the FIFA World Cup, which begins on November 20, as the largest mass gathering of spectators since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020.

Although Qatar this week ended mandatory testing for international arrivals, Dr Al Bayat said risk assessments had been carried out on the “disease profile” in the 31 nations coming to play at the tournament.

‘We have very strong surveillance tools, we have a large surveillance team,’ she said, adding that in the event of ‘any outbreak anywhere in the world, we we’re above that’.

The briefing also focused on preparing for ‘high casualty’ events, after more than 150 people died in crowds at a Halloween celebration last weekend in Seoul, Korea. from South. The public authorities have apologized for the disaster.

A month ago, more than 130 football fans died at a national match in Indonesia amid panic worsened by police tear gas. At least eight fans died in a crash outside a stadium in January during the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon. Security breaches, including police using tear gas, also marred May’s Champions League final in Paris.

“There will be crowds but they will be kept to a minimum,” Dr Al Bayat said of Qatar’s eight World Cup stadiums, citing clear instructions on match tickets telling fans which gates to use.

Up to 40,000 people can gather at Al Bidda Park in downtown Doha to watch matches on giant screens and other entertainment at the official Fan Festival which is a venue for the FIFA Cup. world.

Dr Dalia Samhouri, WHO emergency preparedness specialist in the Middle East, said additional training for such an incident during the World Cup was carried out after an assessment of the medical facilities at the Qatar.

“We realized that mass casualty management training was needed in trauma care,” she said.

The Qatari’s preparedness for a major health incident was tested during the Arab Cup tournament last December and, after a post-tournament review, another simulation exercise in August.

The test drills also covered food and water safety, extreme weather conditions and accidents, the online briefing said.

Fans coming to Qatar have been advised, including on the Ministry of Health website, to purchase travel insurance and up-to-date COVID-19 and flu vaccines.

Qatar is making essential healthcare available at four public hospitals free of charge to holders of the tournament identification known as the Hayya card.

“Qatar is one of the countries,” said WHO’s Dr Samhouri, “where we can safely say that we have strong capabilities.”

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