University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
JournalQatar Medical Journal
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 22 Nov 2020

Abstract

Introduction:
The spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has caused chaos around the world. At the onset of the detection of virus in the State of Qatar, a system was rapidly put in place to retrospectively invite individuals who had recently returned from countries with a Covid-19 disease travel warning for free testing without putting other people at risk. A system had to be put in place to perform these tests without having the individuals requiring to be tested to enter the hospital and congregating in a waiting area. The aim of this article is to share our experience of the early implementation of a drive-through testing clinic using the vehicle of the persons invited to be screened as an isolation compartment to minimize person-to-person contamination.
Methods:
A Hamad Medical Corporation site was selected to stage a drive-through testing facility that would avoid congestion and offer space to facilitate the process. A process was rapidly agreed and staff received the required training regarding infection control measures and documentation. Once at the testing site, the steps individuals were subjected to comprised registration and history taking, temperature measurement, swabbing, and being issued a sick leave certificate and flyer about self-isolation.
Results:
Over the first six days of implementation, as determined by the relevant authorities, 687 individuals had to be contacted, 103 attended their testing appointment in that period, and an additional 327 people (close relations of the individuals contacted or individuals contacted but without health card) also subjected themselves to the testing process which took a median time of 11 minutes 39 seconds. None exhibited symptoms that warranted immediate isolation while they were at the drive-through testing clinic, but four individuals were diagnosed with Covid-19 following laboratory analysis of the swab taken and followed up. The median time between swab collection and laboratory testing was 13 hours 41 minutes 59 seconds.
Conclusions:
Collaboration among various key health, governmental, and travel industry partners was key to the successful and rapid implementation of a Covid-19 drive-through testing clinic in the early days of the pandemic in Qatar. The general public reacted well to this process. Communication, coordination, and planning were identified as key factors at every step of the process. It started from the initial call to the travelers who had recently returned from a country with a newly instituted travel warning right through them leaving with their sick-leave certificate and an information flyer with reminders about preventative infection control measures and encouraging them to self-isolate after having been swabbed.

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