Preprint Review Version 1 This version not peer reviewed

How Do the First Days Count? A Case Study of Qatar Experience in Emergency Risk Communication during the MERS-CoV Outbreak

Version 1 : Received: 28 September 2017 / Approved: 29 September 2017 / Online: 29 September 2017 (04:13:27 CEST)

How to cite: Nour, M.; Farag, E.A..; Al-Romaihi, H.E..; Al-Thani, M.; Al-Almarri, S.; Alhajri, M.; Savoia, E. How Do the First Days Count? A Case Study of Qatar Experience in Emergency Risk Communication during the MERS-CoV Outbreak. Preprints 2017, 2017090148 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201709.0148.v1). Nour, M.; Farag, E.A..; Al-Romaihi, H.E..; Al-Thani, M.; Al-Almarri, S.; Alhajri, M.; Savoia, E. How Do the First Days Count? A Case Study of Qatar Experience in Emergency Risk Communication during the MERS-CoV Outbreak. Preprints 2017, 2017090148 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201709.0148.v1).

Abstract

This case study is the first to be developed in the Middle East region to describe the timeline of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) epidemic events in Qatar along with the features of the implemented Emergency Risk Communication (ERC) activities. It sought to describe how the performed ERC strategy particularly during the first days (then over the course of the following phases) of the outbreak might have contributed to the authorities’ credibility, public trust, and outbreak control measures despite the overwhelming uncertainty. All of the relevant news stories during the period 24 Sep 2012 to 17 Mar 2014 were retrieved from a local daily, then were analyzed and interpreted before they were compiled and matched with the issued press releases, records of response activities and the public reactions along the course of the epidemic timeline. Despite the prevailing uncertainty, the health authorities’ early preparedness to the epidemic and its commitment to a proactive and open ERC strategy since the first days of the outbreak favored the authorities’ credibility and allowed for the quick initiation of the national response efforts during the course of the outbreak. However, there was some pitfalls as the print media reported some conflicting messages and paternalist approach during the early phases of the epidemic. Reliance solely on the print media is an acknowledged limitation to this study. Yet, it might be useful for emergency planners regarding what communication challenges to expect during the first days of a novel virus or similar threats.

Subject Areas

MERS; Emergency Risk Communication; Communication and Coordination; Qatar; media monitoring; epidemic

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