At least 17 medics at Egypt’s National Cancer Institute have tested positive for coronavirus as the country’s official confirmed cases surpasses 1,000.
The institute has now been closed for three days so that it can be sterilised, but doctors are criticising the management for not closing down earlier.
Pharmacist Hajar Ashmawi asked management to close the institute a week ago and test the staff but was told that she should resign and another pharmacist would be appointed to replace her.
“He who fears for himself from infection with the virus should submit his resignation and not come to the institute,” she was told, according to a Facebook post.
Anaesthesiologist Maggie Mousa accused the institute of failing to protect her friend who is infected: “They refused to take any measures to protect her and isolate the institute.”
Cairo University has opened an investigation into the course of action that was taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 amid claims that management is not being transparent about the spread of the disease in the hospital, which serves 300,000 patients annually and employs over 1,000 medical staff.
The university’s spokesperson Mahmoud Alam-Eddin has said that those responsible for negligence will be punished.
Many of the staff work in other hospitals, which has led to fears that the virus has spread in these institutions also.
Doctors have been speaking out for weeks on the government’s weak plan to fight COVID-19, including the lack of simple equipment available to them including masks, disinfectant and protective gloves.
The regime is cracking down on anyone who defies the official version of events, including storming the house of a doctor in Alexandria who wrote a post on Facebook on the lack of masks available.
Medics are asking for a raise in the infection allowance, which is currently 19 Egyptian pounds ($1), and for 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($633) as a starting salary for doctors and 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($317) for nurses.
The average salary of a graduate doctor is currently 2,500 Egyptian pounds ($159).
Egypt currently has 1,173 cases of COVID-19 and has officially recorded 78 deaths. Critics believe the real figures are actually much higher.