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Egypt’s Health Minister: ‘COVID-19 spread will be contained within 3 weeks’

April 1, 2020 at 10:43 am

Egyptian Health Minister Hala Zayed, 1 April 2020 [arabnews]

Egyptian Health Minister Hala Zayed said on Monday that she expects the spread of the coronavirus worldwide to be contained within three weeks, which will be reflected on the situation in Egypt where people are under lockdown as part of measures to contain the spread of the virus.

The minister pointed out that the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned of the reluctance of some countries with fewer cases of infection to implement prevention measures, which will cause their populations to be more vulnerable to infection with the virus.

She continued: “Egypt has been communicating with international research centres, and during the previous days, we received Chinese delegations to participate in the state’s efforts to combat the virus.”

Zayed said that Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s decision to raise medics’ salaries will enter into force immediately.

Al-Sisi has announced he would increase the wages of medical professionals by 75 per cent, at a total cost of around EGP 2.25 billion ($143 million), in addition to establishing a risk fund for medics.

Doctors salaries have not increased since around 2014 despite the fact that the Egyptian Medical Syndicate has been asking for a raise for years, including through a court case. Critics have described the government’s promises as propaganda.

The average salary of a recent graduate doctor in Egypt is around EGP 2,500 ($159).

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The Egyptian president has also directed state officials to “explore the possibility of manufacturing medical supplies and devices locally in accordance with international standards, due to a severe shortage of these commodities at the global level.”

Minister of Higher Education, Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, said on Monday that researchers at scientific research centres and universities had developed a ventilator that is able to help from five to six patients breathe instead of one.

Egyptian doctors have spoken out about the severe shortage of preventative supplies in hospitals in Egypt, which is exposing medical staff to the risk of infection.

Many have said hospitals don’t even supply simple equipment such as disinfectant, masks and protective gloves which means many have been forced to buy them at their own expense.

Last week national security agents stormed the house of a doctor in Alexandria because he had written a Facebook post complaining about the lack of masks available.

The Ministry of Health announced that the number of cases of infection with coronavirus in Egypt has increased to 710, while the death toll increased to 46.

Canadian researchers caused a furore when they announced that they estimated there to be over 19,000 cases in Egypt amid allegations of a government cover-up.