Muscat health at the heart of pandemic

Muscat: Preparedness and response to the current pandemic have been activated early in the Sultanate to counter its impacts. Nevertheless, since the first travel-related detection of the Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country in last February, the surveillance procedures were extremely intensified resulting in increasing the numbers of infections.

Accordingly, at the airport, authorities have used the remote temperature monitoring technology which detects the human body’s temperature from a distance of 300 square meters, and can screen people with high body temperature and set an alarm. meanwhile, the health staff at the airport took the role of distributing isolation forms informing recipients on all the isolation guidelines and precautions, in addition to recording the data of people coming from infected countries and sorting them to follow up those isolated by the health centers of Muscat governorate, while the forms of people from other Governorates were distributed to their respective health directorates to follow up on them.

The airport being in its geographic area, the Directorate General of Health Services in Muscat Governorate has continued to play an extraordinary role against this epidemiological fight. The DGHS-Muscat supplied the airport clinic with trained and qualified health personnel from the Governorate’s health centers and polyclinics.

The work of investigation and surveillance team, which represents in monitoring those infected and close contacts, was of great value. Amid this crucial time, the team per day traces approximately 800 persons of close contacts or those who have interacted with the close contacts.   Despite the exerted efforts, the virus managed to penetrate into the community, recording cases of community transmission.

The new condition, i.e. community transmission, resulted in the establishment of the Center of Operation Management (COVID-19) affiliated with the Directorate General for Health Services at Muscat Governorate. The Center took of the Higher College of Technology-Muscat a temporary site, where it works around the clock seven days a week. The center is an integrated venue for receiving, notification, and following-up data entry regarding the Corona virus (COVID-19).

The center consists of several departments and working teams. Among which are the data management department for suspected and confirmed cases of Corona virus (epidemiological surveillance). It is assigned with receiving and following forms of suspected cases notification, in addition to reviewing reports and ensuring their validity and completeness. The department enters data in the monitoring program and following up sample results from the central laboratories and documenting related data in the database (Tarassud=surveillance).

The department further receives laboratory results from the central public health laboratory and carries out the investigations, enumerates close contacts and distributes cases to health centers for daily follow-up for 4 days. Additionally, communicating with the heads of health centers and focal points for daily follow-up and updating along with coordinating with the concerned authorities to transfer the home and institutional isolation cases to hospitals if required.

the Information Technology Department ensures that electronic systems, whether health or administrative, are still working in all health institutions of the Directorate and the Operations Center, providing technical support, following up in a timely manner the function of the surveillance program, solving technical problems, and upgrading Ashifa system, while the department of Public relations, media and health education follow up the calls received by the Ministry’s Contact Center, interact with all that is published on the directorate’s social media and respond to followers’ inquiries.

Furthermore, the Administrative affairs, transportation and ambulance services provides ambulances, transport vehicles and rented vehicles to transport patients and suspected cases as well as carrying medical supplies from the pharmacy departments in the directorate’s health institutions to hotels.

The pharmaceutical care and medical warehouses supplies health institutions, airports and hotels with sterile, curative and preventive materials, in addition to dispensing the monthly medications via WhatsApp through (for your health) initiative and answering the patients’ inquiries.

As for the Department for Supporting and Promoting the Health of Isolated and Contacts is communicating with persons in institutional and home isolation. It responds to calls and inquiries received from the contact center, following up contacts cases in isolation, providing them with the necessary advice and information, providing medical advice and transportation in coordination with the specialists and communicating with the medical staff in health institutions to admit cases on the basis of determined medical indications, as well as dealing with complaints and notifications.

The Department of Primary Health Care Institutions undertakes technical, clinical, administrative and organizational work at the level of the Governorate of Muscat and its health institutions. It develops plans for workflow and triage in health centers in accordance with the epidemiological situation and provides phone health consultations, whether in health institutions or various isolation sites.

The Crisis and Emergency Management Department coordinates with the various departments, and operates the video conferencing. It is tasked with counting the numbers of arrivals from the airport for quarantine, passes them to the Ministry’s Emergency Management Center and coordinates between the Directorate and the relief sector representative assigned to the quarantine.

The task of Muscat Health magnified as the outputs show Muttrah with high rates of infection. Muscat health staff worked vigorously in the isolated Wilyat screening all symptomatic individuals.

Surveillance at Muttrah was scaled up and reached wider number of residents who were urged to go screening particularly after the royal orders of the Sultan stating that the COVID-19 examination and treatment of all residents are free of charges.

The screening and surveillance health teams with full awareness and precaution were formed and divided into more than seven points in specified places according to pandemic prevalence. Besides the health teams, a team of  volunteers from locals was formed that contributed significantly in facilitating the work of screening teams as the locals are acquainted with the residents-populated areas and are communicating with the residents with their own languages. The intensified screening, huge numbers, and the daily tests prove that Muttrah is becoming well.

Oman Observer

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