Bahrain has been remarkably successful over the past two months in keeping the Coronavirus under control, with a raft of measures to protect citizens and mitigate the economic impact. As of 8 April there are only 349 ongoing cases, while 467 individuals have made a full recovery – the highest number of recoveries logged throughout the Arab world. Over 50,000 people have already been tested throughout the Kingdom. Out of 55 new cases announced by the Health Ministry on 7 April, 41 were detected in a single labour accommodation. All those potentially exposed have been isolated.
Due to the excellent standards of Bahrain’s health system, the number of those who have developed serious symptoms has been mercifully low. However, to date there have been five fatalities. Only three ongoing cases are sufficiently serious to require care at the Intensive Care Unit.
While Saudi Arabia and the UAE have imposed full curfews; Bahrain has sought to maintain a balanced approach, by following up on all suspected cases, along with individuals they may have come into contact with. To further these efforts, a “Be Aware” app has been launched, which represents a user-friendly method of keeping track of suspected new virus cases, while also maximizing access to up-to-date information and advice.
Electronic bracelets are also being provided to those tested or previously diagnosed with the virus, to ensure that they are self-isolating and not exposing others to infection. Legal measure could potentially be taken against those who violate quarantine or tamper with these bracelets.
Despite ongoing efforts to keep the economy running; the worst-affected have tended to be low-wage workers. The authorities have thus embarked on a campaign including the mass distribution of free meals to those in need. The King previously instructed the Health Ministry to cover the medical expenses of all citizens and residents affected by the virus, including testing and quarantine expenses.
There has furthermore been a major campaign to repatriate Bahrainis who want to return from overseas. Already over 1,200 Bahrainis have returned in the context of these efforts, with systematic follow-up to check for cases of overseas infection and ensure there are no possibilities of infection of the wider population.
Commercial and industrial businesses will resume work as of April 10th while following the safety conditions set by the government, while restaurant fucntions remain limited to takeout and delivery services. The private sector is encouraged to maintain remote working and public gatherings are to be limited to a maximum number of five people. Citizens and residents are also required to wear face masks in public.