Quarantine-ing in Qatar

What a strange year it’s been! What began as physical distancing turned into social isolation, and just as I was beginning to integrate myself back into society, I decided to pack my bags and head to another country.

In a previous post, I reflected on my experience with online teaching for the first time in “China” and how different it’s been.

While I camped out back home in Canada I continued to teach online and wait for the Chinese borders to reopen. Then I found out that I no longer had a job for next year. My plan had been to stay in China and continue teaching at a different school, but coronavirus had other plans for me. So, I ended up working fast-food for a bit as I figured out what my next steps would be. What a humbling experience it was!

While I worked my part-time fast food gig, I continued on with the job search, and eventually landed on a position here in Qatar.

Qatar is an Arab country in the Middle East right next to Saudi Arabia. According to Wikipedia, Qatar ranks third highest in the world for GDP, and about 88% of the country’s population are expatriates (although I have not done much further digging on the statistics).

Is it safe? Yes.

Can you tell I get asked this question a lot?

At the moment, I am working in Doha, the capital of Qatar. It is very modern, clean, and welcoming based on my impressions so far. Though, to be fair I haven’t seen much of Qatar as I have been wrapping up my quarantine here.

My Quarantine Experience

Coming from a low risk country, I was eligible for a one-week home quarantine at my incredibly spacious school-provided apartment.

Quarantine in this apartment feels like I’m in a luxury jail, but with less perks than what Jeffrey Epstein had. I can still order delivery, have access to wifi, and plenty of space to work out, but at the end of the day I’m still stuck (“safe”) inside.

Upon arrival at Doha International Airport, you need to make sure you download an app called EHTERAZ, the covid tracking app for Qatar. It’s a simple colour-coded system that is linked to your identification. Green means a negative covid test result, and you are free to go about as you please, red meaning you have tested positive, yellow for quarantine, and grey for suspected infections.

They shuttle you off into a testing area where you sign some forms and get swabbed for your first covid test after landing.

I was able to be picked up by my Head of Schools, who brought me to my apartment to begin my one week mandatory quarantine.

On day six, you are supposed to get a call or SMS text message about going in to a designated testing centre for your second covid test. After results are processed, and if you get a negative test result the EHTERAZ app on your mobile phone turns green and you are free to roam about.

This was not my experience. What was supposed to be a one week quarantine has, by some unfortunate event, turned into two.

Frustratingly enough, on day six I received no calls or text messages. I reached out to my school HR representative to inquire, and was advised to continue waiting for further instructions, or for my code to turn green. The next day, I decided to call the number listed on the EHTERAZ app. The person who answered the phone also told me to wait for a call, even though I had already completed my mandatory one week quarantine at the time.

So I kept waiting… Eventually, it was communicated to me by word of mouth that I WAS in fact allowed to leave my apartment to get my second covid test since I was already finished my quarantine, which brings us to the present day. As I am writing and sharing my experience with you, I am also eagerly awaiting for the moment when I am officially allowed to leave the apartment and explore Doha.

Hopefully soon I can post updates about Qatar! (Sans quarantine).

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