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Coronavirus: More than 20 cases in Egypt despite government insistence there are only 2

Egyptian school girls wear masks for protection against swine flu at a school in Cairo on October 4, 2009 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]
Egyptian school girls wear masks for protection against swine flu at a school in Cairo on October 4, 2009 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]

Sources have told the London-based publication Egypt Watch that they estimate there to be more than 20 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Egypt, contrary to official figures which put the number at two.

Patients who have tested positive for the virus are being kept in military hospitals which are not subject to direct supervision by the Egyptian Ministry of Health, the report claims. This means that the statistics will not be recorded and the World Health Organisation will not necessarily be informed of confirmed cases.

Egyptian media has been told it must not deviate from the official line when it comes to reporting on the coronavirus.

However, suspicions were raised after a number of countries reported that citizens returning from holiday in Egypt have been confirmed as infected with coronavirus, including six people in France, one in Canada and one in Taiwan.

Sources also told Egypt Watch that a family in Tanta Military Hospital has been confirmed as infected and that there are at least four people with the infection being held in Qasr Al-Aini Hospital in Cairo.

Last Thursday, Egypt’s Ministry of Health announced one case of coronavirus, a “foreigner”, but that they had recovered.

At the time Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly said: “There is no coronavirus in Egypt. We will not hide anything.”

Early this morning a new case of coronavirus was announced in Egypt, also a “foreigner”, which means that the official figure stands at just two.

Live: Global outbreak of the coronavirus

Observers have consistently raised concerns about Egypt’s ability to confront the coronavirus, largely due to the country’s poor health care system.

Public healthcare in Egypt suffers from a lack of government funding, is marred by unsafe working conditions and staff shortages. A number of doctors have quit due to being paid poorly, which has left the industry at a shortage.

Egypt’s controversial Health Minister Hala Zayed has said that 82 per cent of coronavirus cases will not need to be treated in hospital, patients will just have to rest at home, sparking fear that the Egyptian government is preparing not to treat people if they become infected with the virus.

Read: Kuwait suspends visas for Egyptians over coronavirus fears

In February a doctor who travelled to Marsa Matruh, where the government has turned a hospital into an isolation unit for coronavirus victims, described the government response to the outbreak as “chaotic” and subversive.

He told Egypt Watch how doctors had their mobile phones confiscated and they had no access to the internet whilst they were there.

Several doctors were recent graduates who were unclear how to deal with the outbreak and had only received 48 hours of training on the crisis.

The spokesman for the Egyptian parliament has said that the popular chaabi music genre Mahraganat, which has now been banned by the Egyptian Music Syndicate as part of Egypt’s sweeping censorship, is more dangerous than coronavirus.

There are now over 89,000 cases of coronavirus worldwide and over 3,000 people have died.

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