She went immediately to American Mission Hospital, a private non-profit medical centre in the capital Manama, to be tested for the novel coronavirus sweeping the world.
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As part of Bahrain’s aggressive approach to testing and tracing all Covid-19 patients, she was told to expect the results that evening.
Her test came back negative, but her experience is part of Bahrain’s efforts to stop the spread of the virus, which have won it international plaudits as a leading example of how to handle the pandemic.
“Honestly, I felt safe going into the hospital and knowing I didn’t have a temperature, even though I was wearing a mask anyway. I wanted to make sure I didn’t give it to anyone,” she told The National of her experience.
Ms McKee’s visit to American Mission Hospital was her second round of testing.
When her plane touched down from Oman, nurses were there at immigration to look for new cases.
“A man had been asked to stay on the plane and nurses boarded wearing head-to-toe scrubs, aprons, masks, gloves and goggles as we disembarked,” the Irishwoman recounted.
“As we walked through immigration, we were told to walk along one side of the corridor, where there was a nurse’s station with a thermal camera, checking everyone.”
As whole continents struggle to contain the spread of Covid-19, Bahrain has been praised for its efforts to tackle the crisis.
Schools have been closed indefinitely, restaurants are open only for delivery and thousands of tests have been conducted in the small island kingdom.
In recent days, all shops have been shut, gatherings of more than five people banned and a curfew has been proposed, pending a parliamentary debate.
It is also the first Arab country to confirm its participation in the World Health Organisation’s “solidarity trial” experiment, a study that will compare treatment across the world to find the most effective means of fighting Covid-19, as the search for a vaccine continues.
WHO officials have praised Bahrain’s “overall comprehensive approach” to the pandemic, which includes a massive contact-tracing operation and the quick provision of isolation wards.
Professor John Ashton, the former regional director of Public Health England, told BBC Newsnight how impressed he was with the island’s actions, as he condemned the UK government’s “complacent” response.
He is embedded with the team for coronavirus led by Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad, to whom he is an adviser.
“They set up a ‘war room’ five weeks ago, they’re doing extensive testing, they’ve built in the past two weeks a camp for 3,000 pilgrims who are returning from Iran, 50 per cent of whom are turning out to be positive, and they’ve got a very good set-up,” he said in a broadcast earlier in March.
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