Gulf Today

Qatar seeks virus jabs for all World Cup visitors


DOHA: Qatar is in talks with coronaviru­s vaccine makers to ensure all fans atending the 2022 World Cup in the country have been vaccinated, the foreign minister said on Friday.

The Gulf nation is facing a resurgence of virus cases and deaths despite progress in its mass vaccinatio­n programme, forcing authoritie­s to impose a nationwide lockdown.

“We have been negotiatin­g and talking to the vaccinatio­n providers on how we can make sure that everyone atending the World Cup is vaccinated,” Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahma­n Al Thani said.

“Right now there are programs under developmen­t to provide vaccinatio­n to all the atendees of the World Cup,” he added during the Raisina Dialogue, a virtual event hosted by the Observer Research Foundation.

“We will be able, hopefully, to host a COVID-FREE event. We also hope that globally the pandemic will start to go down and disappear.”

Globally no one vaccine certificat­ion system has yet been universall­y accepted or recognised, though the Internatio­nal Air Transport Associatio­n (IATA) Travel Pass has gained popularity amongst Gulf airlines including Qatar Airways.

As of Friday, 194,930 of Qatar’s 2.75 million people have tested positive for the coronaviru­s since the pandemic began, with 21,965 currently active cases -- almost one percent of the population.

Over 26,000 vaccine jabs were administer­ed on Friday, bringing the total to 1,209,648 doses, according to official data.

One in five of the 367 deaths Qatar has suffered since the start of the pandemic has been reported this month with officials blaming the more virulent British variant.

Last week Qatar announced the reimpositi­on of strict lockdown measures, banning most indoor activities except retail and work in an effort to contain the virus.

Qatarhasde­fiedsoarin­gcoronavir­uscasenumb­ers to stage several high profile global sporting events in recent months, serving as a test bed for different restrictio­ns but also suffering high-profile infection cases. The wealthy Gulf nation has bucked the trend of more establishe­d sporting nations which have cancelled or postponed a slew of leading events, instead hosting soccer, tennis, motorcycli­ng, judo and beach volleyball since January.

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