The National Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19) today held a press conference at the Crown Prince Centre for Training and Medical Research at the Bahrain Defence Force Hospital to highlight latest COVID-19 developments.

The Undersecretary at the Ministry of Health, and member of the National Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Dr. Waleed Al Manea, began by highlighting that ongoing national efforts continue to ensure the safety and health of the Kingdom’s community, emphasising the importance of following all measures issued by relavent authorities.

Dr. Al Manea noted that in line with the recommendations made by the National Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19), retail and industrial businesses can continue to operate, provided all employees and customers wear face masks and gloves inside the premises. All non-essential medical services are to resume operations, whilst ensuring health and social distancing guidelines are thoroughly followed.

Dr. Al Manea further noted that professional athletes will be allowed to resume their sport exercises in outdoor spaces and swimming pools, as long as health and social distancing guidelines are followed. Outdoor cinemas will also be allowed to operate, so long as health and social distancing guidelines are followed, whilst indoor cinemas will remain closed.

Dr. Al Manea added that as of Wednesday, 27 May 2020, all salons and barber shops are to re-open, whilst ensuring health and social distancing guidelines are followed.

Dr. Al Manea went on to emphasise the importance for all to continue to follow social distancing guidelines during the Eid Al-Fitr holidays, stressing that families should not visit each other in order to ensure the virus does not spread. Dr. Al Manea noted that a curfew is not required for the time being, as long as all members of the community continue to commit to the health and social distancing guidelines issued.

In discussing Eid guidelines, Dr. Al Manea explained that Eid greetings should be done virtually, and Eidiyas should be transferred electronically using bank and money transfer applications. In this regard, Dr. Al Manea extended gratitude to the Central Bank of Bahrain, Benefit, as well as all banking and money transfer companies, for the electronic services and facilities they have provided to ensure ease of business for all.

Furthermore, Dr. Al Manea highlighted the Ministry of Health’s commitment to continue increasing its daily COVID-19 testing capacity, to ensure the early detection, isolation and treatment of active cases. To date, the Ministry has conducted more than 262,000 laboratory tests. Dr. Al Manea emphasised the importance of calling the hotline no. 444 if one is experiencing symptoms. 

Dr. Al Manea then highlighted the Kingdom’s current quarantine, isolation and treatment capacity as follows:

  • Isolation and treatment capacity stands at 6,451 beds, of which 4,289 are currently occupied
  • Quarantine capacity stands at 2,930 beds, of which 403 are currently occupied 

Dr. Al Manea stressed that raising awareness is a responsibility of all, and that following health and social distancing guidelines will ensure the virus is contained.

For her part, the Undersecretary for Trade Affairs at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, (MOICT) Eman Al-Doseri, reiterated the importance of retail and industrial enterprises further strengthening health and social distancing guidelines aimed at combating the spread of COVID-19.

Al-Doseri highlighted that in line with the recommendations made by the National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19), retail and industrial businesses providing goods or services directly to customers can continue operating, provided the below guidelines are followed:

  • All employees and customers are required to wear face masks and gloves inside the premises
  • Facilities must reduce the number of individuals present at any one time, limiting overcrowding, and ensuring social distancing guidelines are followed
  • Stores and facilities are to be regularly and thoroughly disinfected, in accordance with the Ministry of Health’s guidelines
  • Appropriately spaced floor markings for queueing at the entrance of the store are placed, to maintain social distancing guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health

Al-Doseri noted that all non-essential medical services will be able to resume operations as long as health and social distancing guidelines are followed. Additionally, outdoor cinemas will be allowed to operate, so long as health and social distancing guidelines are followed, whilst indoor cinemas will remain closed. Al-Doseri added that the Ministry is currently cooperating with the General Directorate of Civil Defence at the Ministry of Interior, to ensure safety and health regulations are in place.

On allowing professional athletes to resume their sports exercises, Al-Doseri highlighted the following guidelines:

  • All training exercises should take place in open spaces, not in closed halls
  • The body temperature of all athletes should be checked before they enter any facility
  • Sporting or gym equipment and machines are not to be shared 
  • Guarantee that athletes are not a contact of an active case, and ensure each athlete uses the ‘Be Aware’ app at all times
  • Prohibit gatherings of more than 5 individuals at any certain time
  • Ensure there is no direct contact between athletes by leaving a safe distance between each player
  • Do not use any common tools or facilities, such as saunas and showers, with the exception of toilets

As for the re-opening of salons and barber shops on 27 May, Al-Dosari highlighted the following:

  • Customers are to enter the premises by appointment only
  • All waiting areas will remain closed, with magazines and other objects that may be usually shared by customers removed
  • Ensure a distance of two meters between customers
  • Limit the number of workers at the premise as much as possible
  • Assign staff with the job of sterilising and disinfecting surfaces continuously, especially after each customer use
  • All employees are to wear masks, face shields, gloves and disposable PPE gowns - gloves and masks are also needed for customers, except for in cases when a service requires their removal
  • The use of hair dryers is prohibited
  • Razors are to be replaced for each customer
  • All tools used for hair and nails are to be disinfected and sterilised
  • Services such as facial treatments, threading, microblading, massages, semi-permanent eyelashes should be terminated, and returnable hair extensions are not to be used.
  • Do not provide food and drink
  • Customers are allowed to bring their own water bottles

Al-Dosari further added the following:

• All commercial sports gymnasiums, fitness studios, swimming pools, and centres for recreational activities are to remain closed.
• Restaurants, tourist facilities and places serving food are to remain limited to delivery and take-out only.
• Grocery stores will continue to designate the first hour of operation for the elderly as well as pregnant women in order to reduce their interaction with others.
• Shisha cafes, and public halls and event centres are to remain closed. 

Al-Doseri further noted that the private sector is set to continue to abide by the following guidelines:

  • Encourage remote working where possible
  • Minimise the number of employees present in an office at any one time, and ensure social distancing guidelines are observed
  • Reduce the number of employees using transportation services provided by the employer

On this note, Al-Doseri further highlighted that the Ministry of Industry, Commerce & Tourism (MOICT) will intensify its inspections across all retail and industrial enterprises and urged all citizens and residents to inform authorities if they notice any violations.

Later, the Infectious Disease Consultant & Microbiologist at the BDF Hospital and Member of the National Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus, Lt. Col. Manaf Al Qahtani, reported that, to date, a total of 3,873 individuals have recovered and have been discharged from isolation and treatment centres and total laboratory tests have reached over 262,000.

On this note, Dr. Al Qahtani noted that the Kingdom uses the PCR testing method, and that tests are repeated after 24 hours for individuals with symptoms, to ensure results are accurate. Dr. Al Qahtani further noted that training capacities will increase to ensure nurses and designated medical staff are able to provide the highest standards of care. To date, 1,500 medical staff and nurses have received additional training.

The Consultant of Infectious and Internal Diseases at Salmaniya Medical Complex, Dr. Jameela Al Salman, then reviewed the health status of active COVID-19 cases, confirming that there are 4,289 active cases in the Kingdom, of which 4,282 are stable, 26 require medical care, and 7 remain critical. Dr. Al Salman further added that 3,873 patients have fully recovered and have been discharged from their designated isolation and treatment centres.

Dr. Al Salman highlighted the importance of following all health and social distancing guidelines during the Eid Al-Fitr holidays, stressing the importance of wearing face masks and gloves, and for all business owners to ensure that guidelines are followed.

In this regard, Dr. Al Salman emphasised the importance of continuing to wash hands regularly using water and soap, using alcohol-based hand sanitisers, frequently disinfecting surfaces and objects that are used regularly, covering the mouth when coughing, immediately disposing of used napkins and tissues, and avoiding direct contact with anyone with a fever or a cough.

Dr. Al Salman concluded the press conference by noting that individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should contact the 444 hotline number and follow the guidelines provided.