Coronavirus Updates

Student FAQ Fall 2020

HR FAQs : Return to Campus

Return to Campus plan

Return to Campus - Building Access

All instruction has been moved online.  More information can be found in the messages below.

VCUarts Qatar recognizes the importance of protecting the health and safety of its community while maintaining its academic mission and physical presence within the VCUarts Qatar building.

This is particularly true because the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to develop and the future of the pandemic remains unclear.

Please find below information on the phased opening of VCUarts Qatar during the first few weeks of the academic year. 

Academic Instruction and Returning to the Building
Academic instruction began remotely from August 23, 2020.
A hybrid mode of academic activity followed from September 1, 2020.

The hybrid mode will primarily consist of online class instruction. Faculty and students will be able to access academic support units such as the Fab Lab and Print Lab facilities, Innovative Media Studios, the Library, and Technology Services, among others.

The hybrid mode will also enable face-to-face meetings between faculty and students, when possible. Faculty and students will be encouraged to continue to work remotely, unless they are physically required to return to the building for essential academic support operations.

Staff will be encouraged to continue to work remotely, unless they are physically required to return to the building for essential academic support operations.

Accessing the Building
Students, faculty, staff, and community members who visit the VCUarts Qatar’s building will be required to show their EHTERAZ app to security at the main entrance, and to have their temperature taken prior to entry into the building. They will also be required to either swipe their QF ID on a card reader, or sign in to access the building by using their own pen.

Everyone in the building will be required to wear a mask at all times in public spaces.

Entry to the building will only be via the main entrance. It will not serve as an exit, except in emergencies.

The new exit point will be the doors adjacent to the Library which lead to the covered parking lot beside the soccer/football field. It will not serve as an entry point.

Should an emergency arise, such as a fire, all building doors will unlock automatically, and the building will be evacuated.


Please refer to this webpage for the operating status and updates from VCUarts Qatar as well as wellness guidelines related to the current worldwide impact of the Coronavirus, COVID-19.

USEFUL LINKS
Qatar Ministry of Public Health
https://www.moph.gov.qa/english/Pages/Coronavirus2019.aspx

World Health Organization, Coronavirus
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

COVID-19 Coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

United States State Department Emergency Alert: Novel Corona Virus
https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/novel-coronavirus-hubei-province--china.html

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
COVID-19 AND VCUarts Qatar
Updated September 15, 2020

What are the current restrictions from the government regarding moving about the city/country?

The country is currently in Phase 4 of the gradual lifting of restrictions. You can find more information at this link.

More information can be found in the section below titled, Phase 4 and in the associated image.   

Phase 4
Phase 4 commenced on September 1, and the situation will be assessed on an ongoing basis, including the re-imposing and/or lifting of some restrictions based on developments mid-September. 

Some of the restrictions during part one of Phase 4 include:

  • Reopening of all mosques in the country to perform daily and Friday prayers, provided that precautionary measures are followed. Toilets and ablution facilities remain closed.
  • Allowing gatherings of a maximum of 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.
  • Allowing weddings with a maximum of 40 people indoors and 80 people outdoors, provided that precautionary measures are followed, including activating the Ehteraz application, maintaining a distance of two meters between tables with a maximum of five people per table, and avoiding handshakes and kisses while greeting. Individuals holding parties at home as well as managers of wedding venues are required to keep records of the contact information of all invitees.
  • Playgrounds and leisure centers remain closed.
  • Allowing local exhibitions with a capacity of 30%, according to the procedures which will be announced by the National Tourism Council.
  • Allowing museums and public libraries to operate in full capacity and normal hours provided that all precautionary measures are followed.
  • Resuming metro and public transport services with a capacity of 30% according to the procedures which will be announced by the Ministry of Transport and Communications.
  • Continuing normal working hours at malls while keeping capacity to 50%, and opening food courts in malls with a capacity of 30%. Allowing children to enter malls.
  • Allowing the increase in restaurants capacity starting with 30%, according to the procedures which will be set by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

From the beginning of part two of Phase Four, which began on September 15, 2020, the relevant authorities will continue to assess the situation and consider re-imposing or lifting some restrictions based on developments and health indicators.

The restrictions lifted as of September 1 will remain in place, and the second portion of Phase Four includes the following:

  • Increasing the capacity of cinemas and theaters to 30%, provided that all precautionary measures are followed and allowing only those who are 18 years and above to enter.
  • Reducing the capacity of gyms, health clubs and public swimming pools to 30%, while following all precautionary measures that have been previously announced by the relevant authorities.

Precautionary measures will remain in force throughout the four phases. Some measures might have to continue in force for the foreseeable future.  Special provision will be made for groups most at risk of, and vulnerable to, infection to ensure they are protected, and that their essential needs are met.  

The core precautionary measures to be applied throughout all phases are:

What kinds of services can Global Rescue provide me with?
A wide variety of services: medical/legal/embassy locator, interpreter (via phone), advance of emergency cash, assistance with insurance claims – and they can do all of these things remotely, which is of great value to the community.

Is it possible to be evacuated from Qatar during this period of partial lockdown?
Medical evacuation is not available if you are COVID-19 positive.

--Global Rescue and Coronavirus Quarantine Policies:

  • In an attempt to control the spread of the COVID‐19 outbreak, many countries are enforcing mandatory quarantines for travelers who may have been exposed to the virus.
  • Global Rescue recommends that before departure, travelers carefully review the coronavirus control policies of their destination and defer travel if there is a chance of being quarantined.
  • Global Rescue strongly supports the international effort to control the spread of coronavirus. If a Global Rescue member is quarantined, Global Rescue will continue to provide medical and other advisory services. However, medical evacuation is not possible during a mandated quarantine period.

There are exceptions. However, those would have to be agreed upon by the authorities allowing a medevac flight to land and the hospital of choice of the member accepting the transfer during the pandemic.

Is there any possibility that if the situation here worsens (aka uncontrolled outbreak with medical equipment shortages as a hypothetical) that it could be seen as dangerous and therefore better for expats to be evacuated out of the region – and in that case would Global Rescue get involved?
That is outside of the scope of the contract with Global Rescue.  Also, in the case of a major outbreak in Qatar the likelihood of anyone in the country being allowed to leave and spread the disease would be low.

The advice would be to shelter in place – and it is best to prepare for any eventuality by having a good supply of food, water, medications and personal items to enable self-sufficiency for you and your family.

What is meant by a Security Evacuation?
A security evacuation is undertaken in the case of a conflict/war in the region, and is not related to a pandemic.  In the case of a security evacuation, individuals will be evacuated to the closest safe haven (a nearby city or country not involved in the conflict)

Is the US embassy advising all American citizens abroad to return home?
US Embassyhttps://qa.usembassy.gov/global-level-4-health-advisory-avoid-all-international-travel/
In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.

Americans who have a Qatar ID are considered to be living/working abroad.  The advisory for immediate return to the USA was targeted to travelers, and was not intended as advice to expats working abroad to return home.

Can I return home for the summer as the Embassy is saying that US citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel?
We cannot tell our community what to do; it is up to each individual to make this choice for themselves.

Please refer to the information under the section below titled, "Qatar’s Travel Policy During the Gradual Lifting of COVID-19 Restrictions." 
More information about the travel policy can be found at this link, which explains the measures being put in place.
The MoPH has a list of countries classified as at Low Risk of COVID-19. It can be found at this link. Please note that the list of Low Risk countries will be reviewed every two weeks. 

Which websites have the most up to date information from the Qatar government about COVID-19 rules and directives?
Authority in the state of Qatar resides with Qatar’s government. All published rules are subject to change without notice. VCUarts Qatar strives to keep you up-to-date on all developments. However, this may not always be possible. Please reference only official resources such as the following:
www.moph.gov.qa
www.gco.gov.qa
www.moi.gov.qa

Can I return to campus to work or to get some of my supplies?
At this point in time, you cannot work in the building.  You can access it to quickly pick up something that you need.

  • Notify your supervisor of your need to access VCUarts Qatar.
  • Your supervisor will send an email to Andrea (akcecetka@vcu.edu) stating the day of access and authorizing any removal of IT equipment and/or furniture. Requests must be made at least 24 hours in advance.
  • Building access will only be granted though the main entrance after showing your QF ID and signing into the building. QF Security will only grant you access on the day that was requested by your supervisor during normal business hours (Sun-Thurs, 8am-5pm).


Is our building being cleaned and disinfected?
Qatar Foundation is working closely with VCUarts Qatar on building access and disinfection plans which will take place on a large-scale prior to the re-opening of Education City.

How will we be communicated with if there is a loss of power, connectivity by phone or internet?
In the event we lose connectivity by internet/phone, VCUarts Qatar will revert to communicating with employees in person, if movement is permitted by the government.  Using each employee’s address, individuals from VCUarts Qatar’s Crisis Management Team (CMT), communications, and administration would be tasked with delivering critical information to addresses based on physical location.  This would be done in full consideration of social distancing requirements.   

If the government indicates that movement from place to place is not allowed or advisable, then we will expect that each individual/family will have made arrangements to be self-sufficient and to shelter in place until the situation improves and you can be reached.

What would happen to our family if we tested positive for COVID-19? 
According to the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH), if one family member tests positive for COVID-19, MOPH would place the entire household under quarantine and that it is highly unlikely that they would separate family members without testing everyone in the same household. However, if both parents tested positive and the children tested negative, then the MOPH expects the family to make arrangements with a relative or friend to take care of their children while the parents are in quarantine.

While VCUarts Qatar is not legally responsible for taking care of an employee's dependents or children; as colleagues and members of the VCUarts Qatar community, we will definitely extend any support that may be needed. To ensure that VCUarts Qatar has updated emergency contact information, please update your information within the Emergency Management database which can be found on the intranet. 

As communicated by Dean Berbić in the VCUarts Qatar Alert message dated March 23, the decision to travel to your home country is a personal choice that each of us must make for our own reasons. However, please be assured that we will be flexible and understanding given these extraordinary circumstances.

Please be advised that the MoPH call center is available 24X7 and can be reached at 16000. In addition, please feel free to contact Human Resources if you have any further questions. We are here to offer all the support we can to the best of our abilities.



Controlled phased lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in Qatar.
This is a link to PDF document containing information on the controlled phased lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in Qatar.
The restrictions will be lifted in four phases between June 15 and September 1. Please see the artwork below or refer to the document for further details. 

Information on Qatar’s travel policy during the gradual lifting of COVID-19 restrictions can be found below under the image titled, "Gradual Lifting of Restrictions - Phase 3"
It is also includes the list of countries classified as at Low Risk of COVID-19. 











 

Phase Three of the Gradual Lifting of Coronavirus Restrictions

Based on Qatar’s public health indicators, including the steady decrease in the number of daily active cases as well as the decreasing reproductive ratio of the virus, it has been decided to commence the third phase of the gradual opening on Tuesday, July 28, 2020, which will include the following procedures:

  • Continuing the gradual opening of mosques and chapels and allowing Friday and Eid prayers in certain mosques, provided that precautionary measures are followed.
  • Allowing public and private gatherings of up to 10 people indoors and 30 people outdoors, with the need to follow precautionary measures, especially keeping safe distances and wearing masks.
  • Allow the use of personal boats and yachts and rentals with a maximum of 10 people.
  • Opening driving schools at 50% capacity.
  • Continuing the closure of playgrounds and sports equipment in public parks and the Corniche.
  • Allowing amateur and professional sports in large, indoor gyms with a maximum of 40 people and no limit on the number of people in outdoor spaces, maintaining safe distances.
  • Allowing sports competition without audiences.
  • Increasing capacity at private healthcare facilities to 80% and allowing the resumption of domestic healthcare services.
  • Allowing nurseries and childcare facilities to resume working at half capacity (50%), with the need to follow all precautionary measures set by the Ministry of Public Health and after gaining approval from the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs.
  • Continuing normal working hours at malls while keeping capacity to 50% and applying all measures set by the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • Continuing the opening of street markets with capacity ranging between 30% and 75% as assessed by the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry while applying all preventative measures.
  • Continuing the opening of wholesale markets at 30% capacity and applying all measures set by the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • Continuing the gradual opening of restaurants, including restaurants and coffee shops at malls (except for shared food courts). 
  • Continuing the opening of museums and public libraries while keeping its capacity to 50%.
  • Opening of beauty parlors and barbershops at 30% capacity, provided that all employees have been tested negative at one of the private laboratories accredited by the Ministry of Public Health, as well as gaining prior approval from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • Allowing the opening of health clubs and gyms at half capacity (50%), provided that all precautionary measures, which will be announced by the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, are followed.
  • Continuing the suspension of massage, jacuzzi, sauna centers and indoor pools in hotels and shops.

More information on the guidelines can be found at this link
The images below explain some of the latest changes. 








Qatar’s Travel Policy During the Gradual Lifting of COVID-19 Restrictions

As part of the gradual lifting of restrictions imposed in Qatar as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and based on Qatar’s travel policy announced previously, the travel policies effective on Saturday, August 1, have been reviewed based on public health indicators in the State of Qatar and around the world.

Below is information from the Government Communications Office on the travel policy.

First – the quarantine policy has been reviewed and the following has been decided:

  • Arrivals to the State of Qatar from low-risk countries are required to take a Coronavirus test upon arrival at the airport, and to sign a formal pledge to adhere to quarantine at home for a week, noting that the traveller’s status on the Ehteraz application will be yellow, which means that they are required to quarantine. After the week has elapsed, the traveller must go to one of the dedicated health centers to get another Coronavirus test. If the result is positive, the traveller will be transferred to isolation, and if it is negative, the quarantine period ends at the end of that week and the traveller’s status on the Ehteraz application will change to green. It should be noted that the list of low-risk countries will be published on the Ministry of Public Health’s website and announced by the Civil Aviation Authority. The list of low-risk countries will be reviewed every two weeks. If there are accredited COVID-19 testing centres in one of these low-risk countries, obtaining a COVID-free certificate from one of these centers exempts the traveller from taking the test at the airport upon arrival in the country, provided that the date of obtaining the certificate does not exceed 48 hours before traveling.
  • Arrivals from countries that are not included in the list of low-risk countries and in which COVID-19 testing centers have been accredited are required to obtain a virus-free certificate from there no more than 48 hours before traveling. The arrivals must also adhere to the home quarantine for a week upon arrival in Doha while also following the policy and conditions applied to arrivals from the low-risk countries mentioned above.
  • Arrivals from other countries that are not included in the list of low-risk countries and in which there are no accredited COVID-19 testing centers will be required to quarantine in a hotel at their own expense for one week, provided that hotel accommodation is booked through the Discover Qatar website before arriving in the State of Qatar. After the week has elapsed, the ending of the quarantine period will depend on the result of a COVID-19 test. If the result is positive, the traveller will be transferred to isolation, and if it is negative, the person will commit to home quarantine for another week, in which case the status on the Ehteraz application will be yellow and will then change to green after the week has passed.

Second – Qatari citizens and their wives, spouses and children, and permanent residency holders:

  • They can travel outside the country and return at any time, while adhering to all the aforementioned procedures and according to the countries of arrival.
  • Patients receiving treatment abroad at the expense of the state of Qatar and their registered companions, and employees who are dispatched for work assignments, will be exempt from bearing the cost of the hotel, as the relevant body will cover the costs of the hotel quarantine if the traveller meets the conditions of the hotel quarantine, as explained in the statement.

Third – residents:

  • They will be allowed to return to the State of Qatar starting the first of August 2020. Residents’ entry will be organized based on a series of priorities, including public health indicators, the nature of the needs of the various government and semi-government sectors and humanitarian cases, and through submitting return requests for permits via the Qatar Portal website based on the above-mentioned priorities.
  • The employer shall bear the costs of the quarantine in the dedicated facilities for blue collar workers in the private sector and domestic workers at a nominal cost after obtaining the entry permit.

Fourth – categories eligible for home quarantine:

The Ministry of Public Health has identified the following categories eligible for home quarantine for a week, regardless of the country from which they arrived:

  1. Those over 55
  2. Those who have had an organ or spinal cord transplant
  3. Those who receive immunosuppressive therapy
  4. Those who suffer from heart disease
  5. Those who suffer from moderate to severe asthma
  6. Those who receive cancer treatment
  7. Pregnant women
  8. Babysitting mothers with children up to five years-old
  9. Those who suffer from kidney failure
  10. Those with chronic liver disease
  11. Those with lower limb amputation
  12. Those with disabilities who require support to carry out activities
  13. Disabled children and their mothers
  14. Those who suffer from epilepsy and receive treatment
  15. Those with diabetic foot
  16. Those with immediate relatives who have died in the 10 days prior to their arrival
  17. Those receiving treatment for mental and psychiatric illnesses, and people suffering from claustrophobia
  18. Those who suffer from diabetes and receive treatment
  19. Those who have high blood pressure

Workers in the various sectors are required to coordinate the dates of travel and return with their employers. Families and workers in the education sector must take the quarantine period into account when planning their return to the State of Qatar in order to avoid absence during the mandatory quarantine period, whether in the designated facilities or at home.

It should also be noted that the process of issuing return permits for residents will be through the Qatar Portal website until the need to organize the entry process ends, based on relevant public health indicators.

For more information regarding the process of issuing return permits to the State of Qatar, you can visit the Ministry of Public Health page on COVID-19 or contact the Government Contact Centre via the hotline (109).

Below is the list of countries classified as at Low Risk of COVID-19, effective August 15, 2020.
The list of low-risk countries will be reviewed every two weeks. Please check the Ministry of Public Health’s website for regular updates. 

 

From: The Crisis Management Team
Message: VCUarts Qatar employee tests positive for COVID-19
Date: Friday, July 17, 2020

Good afternoon VCUarts Qatar community:

We are writing to advise that an employee of VCUarts Qatar has unfortunately tested positive for COVID-19. We are in regular contact with the affected employee, ensuring they are getting the information and the support they need during this difficult time. They are doing well, quarantined at home. We are hopeful they will make a full recovery. 

It is expected that Qatar's Ministry of Public Health will undertake contact tracing with the assistance of our employee. This individual has not been on campus for over a month, well beyond the period of concern for on-campus contact.

Please, now, and at any other time, if you feel you may have been in contact with anyone who has symptoms or has tested positive, make every effort to get tested as soon as possible and ideally avoid contact with others until you are certain you are not infected.

This virus is so transmissible that even those taking precautions have become ill.

If you have any questions please direct them at vcuqalert@vcu.edu

Please stay safe and follow all government restrictions and guidelines to prevent infection.

Thank you and stay safe.
The Crisis Management Team.



From: The Crisis Management Team
Message: Update Re Regulations Regarding COVID-19 in Qatar
Date: Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Good morning everyone

Over the past week, there have been a number of updates made to the directives from the Qatari Government regarding COVID-19 prevention in Qatar.  These rules have been heavily promoted in media, but also sharing them here for our community.

Please be aware of these regulations and note that spot checks by the police are taking place to ensure compliance.

  • All residents and citizens of Qatar must install the EHTERAZ application on their phones and have it turned on when outside of their home.
  • All stores – with the exception of food and catering shops, pharmacies, and restaurants – will be closed from May 19 to May 30.
  • No more than two people in a vehicle; three are allowed in taxis and limousines and in private vehicles when driven by the family driver. 
  • Any exercise has to be done in areas close to your residence area while also avoiding gatherings and taking the necessary precautions including wearing masks and keeping a safe distance.
  • Qatar will be requiring face masks for citizens and residents at all times when you are outside your home – with the exception of being in your car alone. The fines for not complying are imprisonment for up to three years and/or a fine not to exceed QR 200,000. Masks are sold at pharmacies in Doha.
  • Once again, the government is advising all Qatari residents and citizens to stay at home and only leave the home for absolutely essential purposes. 

Thank you and stay safe.
The Crisis Management Team.

 

From: The Crisis Management Team
Message: VCUarts Qatar employee tests positive for COVID-19
Date: Friday, May 8, 2020

Good evening VCUarts Qatar community:

We are writing to advise that an employee of VCUarts Qatar has unfortunately tested positive for COVID-19. We are in regular contact with the affected employee, ensuring they are getting information and the support and advice they need during this difficult time. We are hopeful they will make a full recovery. 

There is no reason for concern of transmission to other VCUarts Qatar staff or students, as this individual has not been on campus since the day we moved to online instruction and also has not had in-person contact with anyone from the VCUarts Qatar community since that time.  

VCUarts Qatar has done our due diligence and notified the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH). 

If you have any questions please direct them via this email address.

Please stay safe and follow all government restrictions and guidelines to avoid infection.  

Thank you.
The Crisis Management Team.

 

From: The Crisis Management Team
Message: Temporary move at the male dormitories in Education City
Date: Thursday, May 7, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

It has been confirmed that a QF maintenance contractor who was recently working on the HVAC system at the male dormitories has tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, Qatar Foundation is taking precautionary measures. Beginning this afternoon, they are temporarily relocating the students in Karam Hall, Sabur Hall and Shuker Hall to rooms in Amanah Hall to allow these residences to be disinfected. Those students residing in Theqah Hall will not be moved, but will stay in their rooms while their building is disinfected.

The temporary move began at noon today. There will also be contact tracing done to determine who may have come in contact with this contractor while he was working onsite.

At this point in time, VCUarts Qatar has no students who are directly affected by the temporary move and disinfection – however, we wanted all to be aware of it as it may cause concern and questions among the community in general.   

If you have any questions, please respond to this email and we will get back to you right away.

Thank you very much.
The Crisis Management Team.



Message: MoPH advises increased COVID-19 cases
From: Amir Berbić, Dean of VCUarts Qatar
Date: Friday April 17

Good evening VCUarts Qatar Faculty, Staff and Students,

I hope you are having a restful weekend. I wanted to touch base with you following today’s announcement from the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) regarding the number of positive cases of COVID-19 that have been confirmed in the past 24 hours.

We are continuing to see increasing numbers this week – and today the number of positive cases was 560, the highest daily count we have seen to date. The number of confirmed cases in Qatar now stands at 4663, with 4192 active cases under treatment. There are 464 recovered cases, and seven individuals have sadly passed away.

There is a lot of discussion on social media today, as this number has caused some alarm in the community, and I know many of you are naturally feeling increased anxiety.

The MoPH advises that they believe the increase indicates that we have started to enter the peak stage of the spread of the virus, and that the cases will continue to increase daily during this phase, before leveling off. 

As we move through the peak, they are also increasing the number of tests and conducting more intensive investigations into the contacts of people who were previously diagnosed – so the more tests and investigations that they carry out, the more cases they will find. Once the cases and clusters are discovered, the affected people will immediately be quarantined and receive medical treatment.

Though many of the cases are within the migrant worker communities and accommodations, there are also cases amongst the general population. Therefore, we should not lower our guard just because we are in our own familiar compounds or buildings. 

At this time, the best advice is to follow the preventative guidelines that are in place. There are no curfews at this time, but we are all being asked to stay at home. You can reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19 by following the physical distancing rules and by making only essential trips to grocery stores and pharmacies. Be as efficient as possible in purchasing what you need and in returning home, and don’t take your children with you. Take the necessary precautions while you are out (such as by wearing masks and gloves, and using hand sanitizer) and thoroughly clean your hands and purchases immediately upon returning to your home.

Please know that VCUarts Qatar’s Crisis Management Team is monitoring trusted sources of information, and will keep you informed if there are any changes in the situation or in the government’s preventative measures or regulations.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email vcuqalert@vcu.edu and we will get back to you with answers and assistance.

Thank you.
Amir
Dean
Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar


 

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

The constantly evolving situation in Qatar and worldwide concerning efforts to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that updates and announcements on various regulations and initiatives are being published throughout the day and night. 

The information is being disseminated across multiple platforms at different times, and we acknowledge that it can be challenging to keep abreast of all the updates. 

With this in mind, our Crisis Management Team (CMT) is endeavoring to provide the most up-to-date information on the current situation in Qatar and abroad. 

Please note that the information provided below comes only from official sources and is offered for the purposes of guidance only. 

We also ask that you exercise careful and informed judgment at all times when dealing with any aspects related to the COVID-19 outbreak in any situation or location. 

Please contact our CMT at vcuqalert@vcu.edu if you see something that you have seen online, or heard about, and would like clarification on. They will be happy to review the information and let you know if  the information appears to be true or false.

Essential Information 
No curfew or lockdown has been announced.

There are strict and enforced regulations in place regarding

  • The general rule is stay at home with your own family (those that usually live with you) and do not have outside visitors, cleaners etc. inside your home.
  • Avoid non-essential travel – limit your trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, and for health visits only, and as infrequently as possible.
  • When queuing at stores etc. you must keep a 1.5 meter distance from others - stores have placed floor stickers to enable this practice.
  • All gatherings are against the law for any reason - see the advisory from the government below
  • Meetings must be held using teleconferencing technology.  Only absolutely essential meetings that cannot take place in any other way are to take place in person and these should be five or fewer people.   




On May 18, 2020 the Council of Ministers announced new precautionary decisions and measures to reduce the outbreak of Coronavirus COVID-19. All citizens and residents are obligated to install the EHTERAZ app on smartphones when leaving the house for any reason. All citizens and residents are obligated not to have more than two people in the vehicle and a maximum of three are allowed in the following cases: A- Transportation in taxis and limousines. B- Transfer in private vehicles when driven by the driver of the family. More information is available in the image below 


Starting from Sunday, May 17, 2020 wearing face masks is mandatory for all upon leaving house for any reason, except in the case when a person is alone while driving a vehicle. The Ministry of Interior is authorized to take necessary measures in this regard.


A guide to Contact Tracing from the Ministry of Public Health. 


In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, PHCC has dedicated four of its health centers as COVID-19 test and hold centers. The four centers are: Muaither, Rawdat Al Khail, Um Slal, and Gharafat Al Rayyan health centers. You will now be able to attend a COVID-19 Test and Hold centre as a walk-in patient to be swabbed if you are displaying coronavirus centers. 


In compliance with the Ministry of Public Health directive of May 13, 2020, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection spread, all routine appointments are canceled and services are limited to urgent and emergency visits for adults only during this period of the pandemic. More information can be found in this link to the Hamad Dental Center website and in the image below.


Please see below the announcement from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on the decision to suspend all commercial and service activities during the Eid Al-Fitr holiday, with the exception of specific sectors and activities.









The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has provided guidance on how to protect yourself while grocery shopping. Please see the images below


The image below offers precautionary measures to be followed when using home delivery services.

 

The working hours of companies and commercial shops have also changed, but vital services such as pharmacies, petrol stations, food stores, are exempted from the decision.
You can see more in the image below:


 

Travel

Qatar Airways and Hamad International Airport. 
Entry to Qatar is only allowed for Qatari nationals who will be required to enter quarantine for a period of 14 days. However, access into Qatar is, for the time being, available to Qatari nationals and Permanent Residents (this is not the same as a QID holder - these are long term residents who have applied for special permits).

Expat Residents can leave the country to other destinations, but at this point in time would not be able to return.   More information on this is provided in the Travel section below.  

Qatar Airways has announced that the passport holders of other nations will not be granted entry to Qatar. These restrictions are being reviewed on an ongoing basis. Passengers with onward connections through Hamad International Airport will be accepted for travel and Qatar Airways’ global network will continue its operation for transit passengers as normal, subject to entry restrictions at their final destination. 

Qatar Airways is still operating flights to many cities around the world, but the airports in these cities may close at short notice. At the time of writing, only one Middle Eastern airport is accessible from Qatar (to Tehran), while flights were still available to locations such as Chicago, London, and Kuala Lumpur. Again, the evolving situation in various countries means that the airports can close with little or no notice, so please consult with your embassy and check the Qatar Airways website. 

As noted in a March 31 email from our Human Resources department, exit permits are no longer required for government and semi-government sector-sponsored employees and students effective March 22, 2020, until further notice. This means that an Exit Permit will no longer be required for Qatar Foundation-sponsored employees and students when traveling out of Qatar.

The White House, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Centers for Disease Control have set up a Coronavirus (COVID-19) website that provides information on symptoms, cases and updates, and resources for households, travelers, and schools and child care programs, amongst others. 

Johns Hopkins
Johns Hopkins University & Medicine (JHU) has a COVID-19 tracking map which is the most widely recognized tracker of COVID-19 cases globally, including active cases, deaths and recoveries. 

Centers for Disease Control 
The Travel section on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website has information on everything from COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Country, to FAQs for international travelers. 

World Health Organization 
The World Health Organization (WHO) website, like Johns Hopkins, and the CDC, has its own  COVID-19 Situation Dashboard


Staying Safe 

Qatar: Ministry of Public Health
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) in collaboration with Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) has created a webpage to provide the residents of Qatar with a trusted source of information related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

It is updated every day and contains statistics on the total number of new cases in the last 24 hours, the total number of people tested for COVID-19, the total number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 and so on. 

It is available in Arabic, English, Hindi, and Malayalam. 
https://www.moph.gov.qa/english/Pages/Coronavirus2019.aspx#

Furthermore, it has a pop-up COVID-19 Self-Assessment box 

The right-hand side of the MoPH web page has several useful links, some of which we highlight below. 
A page on frequently asked questions contains information on everything from signs and symptoms of COVID-19, to what steps Qatar has taken to date to protect the population from COVID-19. 

The website has information on how to home quarantine and educational videos (in several languages including Arabic, Bengali, Hindi, Malayalam, Nepali, Sinhala, and Tagalog) on aspects such as the correct method of hand-washing, wearing masks, and what to do if you develop the symptoms of COVID-19. 

Educational Materials are available in downloadable formats in several languages and cover everything from when you have to wash your hands, and information on the COVID-19 Call Center, to how to protect yourself from the Coronavirus

Other news from the MoPH can be found here and at the time of going to press it has news on circulars, remote healthcare services, and the national volunteering campaign. Anyone who is interested in volunteering can sign up at this link

The MoPH, PHCC, and MoI have set up a Healthcare Hotline. The number to call is 16000. More information is provided in the images below:




The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has announced the mechanism of the second phase for distrubuting masks through pharmacies. Information can be found in the three images below. 



Hamad Medical Corporation has launched a Mental Health Service Helpline. To speak to a mental health professional, call the new helpline on 16000 from 7am to 10pm daily.
More information can be found in the image below.

The Primary Health Care Corporation has launched the community call center in collaboration with the MoPH and HMC to answer all questions and respond to all inquiries about the services provided. Instructions are in the image below.



The PHCC has started a medication delivery service. Please see the image below for more information.



Hamad Medical Corporation has launched a Pharmacy Medication Delivery Service in collaboration with Qatar Post. Information can be be found in the image below.


A reminder to call 16000 not 999 for information or medical assistance for COVID-19.

Practical advice is also offered, especially as the summer months arrive. The Ministry of Interior has advised against leaving hand sanitizer in your car, as it may cause a fire hazard in the case of extremely hot temperatures.

Hamad Medical Corporation offers advice on the use of disposable gloves and how to remove them safely.




Information from the MoPH on the correct way to wash your hands with soap and water and how to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.



The Ministry of Public Health offers advice on the use of masks. Information can be found in the images below and at this link




More information
The MoPH has issued also issued guidance for people living with Type 1 diabetes, pregnant women and new mothers, and older adults.


 

Qatar: Government Communications Office
The Government Communications Office (GCO) has a website with news about COVID-19 in Qatar. It has statistics, charts, press releases, information on what measures are being taken to meet the needs of consumers, and travel policy.
The GCO Twitter account has regular updates, including on the COVID-19 situation in Qatar.

It has launched a Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp. The new service, which is free-to-use, provides a central source of accurate, trustworthy and up-to-date information about Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Coronavirus Information Service is an automated “chatbot” service that allows citizens and residents in Qatar to get answers to the most common questions about Coronavirus from the Ministry of Public Health and the GCO 24 hours a day in six languages: Arabic, English, Urdu, Hindi, Nepali, and Malayalam. The service will provide information on topics such as Coronavirus prevention and symptoms, the latest number of cases, advice on staying at home, travel advice and myth-busting.

To use the free Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp, simply save the number +974 6006 0601 in your phone contacts, then send a WhatsApp message in any language to get started.
The conversation can also be started via: https://wa.me/97460060601?text=Hi

 

Qatar: Ministry of Education and Higher Education
The Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) website has information in Arabic on areas including electronic services and further education. It also provides information on its social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

Qatar: Ministry of Commerce and Industry
Information from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) can be found at this link and on Twitter. It has announcements on safe distancing rules at retail outlets, and circulars on ratified contracts to hold concerts, festivals, events and special gatherings, and the closure of all restaurants, cafes, and food outlets. 

Qatar: Ministry of Interior
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) posts information on its social media on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  

Qatar: Qatar Foundation – Maktabi
Qatar Foundation has created a COVID-19 section on its Maktabi portal, which has information on everything from the QF Primary Health Care Center to Education City access. 

Qatar: Primary Health Care Corporation 
The Primary Health Care Corporation posts information on its social media on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

Sidra Medicine
Sidra Medicine has a COVID-19 information page with Information for pregnant women and their families, and tips from their Children and Adolescent Mental Health team. Dr. Patrick Tang shared tips on AlJazeera English related to groceries and the importance of cleaning high touch surfaces. Sidra Medicine posts information on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.  

Qatar: Hamad Medical Corporation
Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) website has information on how to get a health card, emergency departments, and lists of various hospitals. HMC also posts information on Twitter and