Qatar details World Cup preparedness for health emergencies

Nov 2, 2022, 1:16 AM | Updated: 1:19 pm
A woman wipes her tears as she pays tribute to victims of a deadly accident that happened during Sa...

A woman wipes her tears as she pays tribute to victims of a deadly accident that happened during Saturday night's Halloween festivities, at a makeshift flower-laying area set up near the scene of the accident in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. South Korean officials admitted responsibility and apologized on Tuesday for failures in preventing and responding to a Halloween crowd surge that killed more than 150 people and left citizens shocked and angry. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

GENEVA (AP) — After a fatal crowd crush in South Korea and deaths at a soccer game in Indonesia, Qatar’s readiness for a health emergency at the World Cup was detailed Wednesday.

Public health experts in Qatar explained — in an online briefing hosted by the Geneva-based World Health Organization — their preparations for a tournament that is expected to attract at least 1.2 million visitors to the tiny emirate.

“Surprises happen but we are prepared as much as humanly possible for such events,” said Dr. Soha Al Bayat from the Qatari Ministry of Public Health.

“There were events that happened recently in other countries where there were injuries and there were casualties so, of course, we bear that in mind,” she said.

Public health experts describe soccer’s World Cup, which begins Nov. 20, as the biggest mass gathering of spectators since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Though Qatar this week ended mandatory testing for international arrivals, Dr. Al Bayat said risk assessments were done of the “disease profile” in all 31 nations coming to play at the tournament.

“We have very strong surveillance tools, we have a big surveillance team,” she said, adding that in the event of “any outbreak anywhere in the world, we are on top of that.”

The briefing also focused on preparing for “mass casualty” events, after more than 150 people died in crowd crushes at a Halloween celebration last weekend in Seoul, South Korea. Public officials have apologized for the disaster.

One month ago, more than 130 soccer fans died at a domestic game in Indonesia amid panic made worse by police firing tear gas. At least eight fans died in a crush outside a stadium in January at the African Cup of Nations in Cameroon. Security failures including police using tear gas also marred the Champions League final in May in Paris.

“There will be crowds but it will be minimized,” Dr. Al Bayat said of Qatar’s eight World Cup stadiums, citing clear directions on match tickets telling fans which gates to use.

Up to 40,000 people can gather at Al Bidda Park in downtown Doha to watch games on giant screens and other entertainment at the official fan festival site that is a meeting hub for the World Cup.

Dr. Dalia Samhouri, a WHO emergency preparedness specialist in the Middle East, said extra training for such an incident at the World Cup was done after an assessment of Qatar’s medical facilities.

“We realized that a training on mass casualty management was needed in trauma care,” she said.

Qatari’s preparation for a major health incident was tested at the Arab Cup tournament last December and, after a post-tournament review, another simulation exercise in August.

The trial exercises also dealt with food and water safety, extreme weather and accidents, the online briefing was told.

Fans coming to Qatar have been advised, including on the health ministry website, to get travel insurance and up-to-date vaccinations for COVID-19 and influenza.

Qatar is making essential health care available for free at four public hospitals to holders of the tournament identification known as a Hayya Card.

“Qatar is one of the countries,” WHO’s Dr. Samhouri said, “that we can safely say that we have strong capacities.”


AP World Cup coverage: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Vancouver Canucks' Elias Pettersson, back, of Sweden, Curtis Lazar (20), Quinn Hughes, back right, ...
Associated Press

Pettersson scores early in OT, Canucks beat Canadiens 7-6

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Elias Pettersson scored 13 seconds into overtime and the Vancouver Canucks rallied to beat the Montreal Canadiens 7-6 on Monday night. Ilya Mikheyev scored two goals, Andrei Kuzmenko had a goal and an assist, and Conor Garland, Bo Horvat and Jack Studnicka also scored for the Canucks. Pettersson also had […]
24 hours ago
Indiana Pacers forward Jalen Smith (25) dunks against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30...
Associated Press

Rookie Nembhard has 31, leads Pacers past Warriors, 112-104

SAN FRANCSICO (AP) — Rookie Andrew Nembhard outshined the Splash Brothers on their home court. Nembhard scored a season-high 31 points and added 13 assists and eight rebounds to lead the undermanned Indiana Pacers to a 112-104 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Monday night. A second-round draft pick, Nembhard made a key 3-pointer […]
24 hours ago
Associated Press

North Dakota State wins 67-62 over Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Boden Skunberg scored 20 points as North Dakota State beat Portland 67-62 on Monday. Skunberg also contributed 10 rebounds for the Bison (2-8). Tajavis Miller shot 7 for 13, including 3 for 7 from beyond the arc to add 17 points. Damari Wheeler-Thomas went 5 of 9 from the field to […]
24 hours ago
Associated Press

Odunewu’s 23 lead New Mexico State past Simon Fraser 77-35

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Shakiru Odunewu had 23 points in New Mexico State’s 77-35 win against Simon Fraser on Monday. Odunewu also contributed 10 rebounds and three blocks for the Aggies (4-2). Kyle Feit added 16 points while shooting 6 for 15, including 4 for 12 from beyond the arc, and he also had […]
24 hours ago
San Diego State guard Matt Bradley, below, drives with the ball as Troy guard Nelson Phillips defen...
Associated Press

Bradley leads No. 22 San Diego St over Troy 60-55

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Matt Bradley scored 19 points and No. 22 San Diego State beat Troy 60-55 on Monday night. Darrion Trammell made a layup in traffic, converted two free throws and forced a key steal in the final three minutes to seal the win for the Aztecs (7-2). “Another hard-fought game,” San Diego […]
24 hours ago
Calgary Flames forward Nazem Kadri, left, celebrates his goal with teammate Rasmus Andersson during...
Associated Press

Kadri’s winner halts Coyotes’ comeback, Flames win 3-2

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Nazem Kadri scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:18 left in the third period and had two assists to lead the Calgary Flames to a 3-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night. Dillon Dube and Elias Lindholm also scored for Calgary, which has won five of its last six games […]
24 hours ago
Qatar details World Cup preparedness for health emergencies