DOHA: A set of unusual guidelines issued by the health authorities to Independent schools related to the coronavirus — Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) — has caused confusion among the academic community.
The directives are part of an awareness campaign launched among students about the illness that caused the death of three Qataris. A total of five people in Qatar — all citizens — have been infected with the virus until now.
The schools have been asked to cancel the morning assembly and restrict movement of students from one class to another.
They have even been instructed to keep a minimum of two metres distance between students in a class room, as reported by a local Arabic daily yesterday. The guidelines have surprised many, since the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) has not reported any new case of MERS in Qatar, nor advised any special precautionary measures.
Contacted yesterday, an expert at the SCH said that the directives were issued by the Primary Healthcare Corporation (PHCC) in collaboration with the Supreme Education Council (SEC).
The issue was raised by some participants at a popular radio programme on Qatar TV, Watanee Al Habeeb - Sabah Al Khair (Good morning Qatar) yesterday.
A participant expressed surprise particularly over the instruction to maintain two meters distance between the students in a class room, which, she said was impractical.
Talking to this daily yesterday, several citizens have pointed out that the guidelines could cause panic among the community.
“The authorities did not issue such instructions even during the H1N1 break out. If this is the case in Qatar, what precautions will have to be taken in Saudi Arabia during Haj,” wondered a citizen.
Besides general guidelines related to hygiene, the schools have been asked to prepare a special room to isolate suspected cases, equipped with all the required medical facilities.
Door handles should be cleaned with detergents and liquids to wash hands should be made available at toilets and corridors, as per the guidelines, reported the daily.