The Covid-19 pandemic that has currently crippled the entire world has affected various sports including football. Most countries across the world have confirmed positive coronavirus cases and the deadly disease has reared its ugly head at the numerous 2022 World Cup construction sites in Qatar as well.
However, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), the organisation responsible for the timely delivery of the infrastructure for the World Cup, has swung its machinery into action in order to ensure the outbreak does not spread among the workforce.
The SC have confirmed that two staff of one of their contractors apart from six workers from three World Cup stadium construction sites have been diagnosed with Covid-19. The two staff are employed with an SC contractor at the Al Thumama stadium site. The rest of the affected people were working at the Al Rayyan and Al Bayt stadium construction sites.
"The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) has confirmed that two staff members who work for a SC contractor have tested positive for Covid-19," the SC said in a statement. "In addition, six workers on SC projects have tested positive."
So what are implications of the developments and how are Qatar ensuring the workers are taken care of at this challenging time?
SC's action plan for confirmed Covid-19 cases
The SC has wasted no time in coming up with an action plan to ensure the spread is contained, adopting guidelines from Qatar's Ministry of Public Health (MoPH).
All those who tested positive have been quarantined for a period of 14 days and will be monitored by a team of medical professionals. Those people who came in close contact with the five workers have also been put into isolation for 14 days.
What are the measures SC has taken to ensure the outbreak does not spread among the workforce?
Various mitigation measures have been adopted by the SC including distribution of masks and sanitisers across all the World Cup project sites. The SC has also established quarantine and isolation facilities in all the sites. A process to check and monitor the body temperature of workers twice a day has been implemented.
This is in addition to various awareness classes and campaigns run to ensure the workers are well abreast of the issue and know how to safeguard themselves.
SC have also initiated a risk assessment review of their existing caterers' kitchen facilities and have suggested upgrades to a few and identified those that needs replacement to maintain hygiene in order to mitigate the crisis.
They are also evaluating the possibility of relocating workers residing in non-SC accommodation to a centralised SC compliant and managed accommodation.
The SC have also taken those with chronic health conditions and workers above the age of 55 temporarily off the projects to safeguard them.
What is SC doing to identify and isolate potential Covid-19 patients?
Ever since the outbreak began, the SC has been operating its own screening process for all the workers to monitor for symptoms pertaining to Covid-19, in accordance with the MoPH guidelines. The doctors and nurses available at the work sites are trained to examine those with upper respiratory tract symptoms. Suspected cases are then reported to the government.
The testing for Covid-19 is only permitted to take place within Hamad Hospital and and Communicable Disease Center assigned hospitals and the suspected cases are duly directed to these sites.
Who will pay for the medical expense for those who have contracted the disease and those in preventive isolation?
Good news for the workers is that the Qatar government has guaranteed free healthcare during this crisis. More importantly, those who are indisposed from work because of Covid-19 and those in isolation will continue to receive their salaries in full.
Even the senior citizen and those with chronic conditions who have been taken off work will receive their salaries in full.
As much as QAR 3 billion has been earmarked to pay the salaries of workers and rents of employers by the Ministry of Administrative Development Labour and Social Affairs.
Will the work on the various projects be affected?
The SC are monitoring the situation closely as per MoPH guidelines and have stated that they will take necessary steps, including temporary suspension of work as and when required, to protect the health and safety of its workforce.