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Campaign builds for doctor arrested for reporting corona infection

Dr. Aalaa Shaaban Hamida was reported to the national security forces on the grounds that she was causing fear and panic after a nurse used her phone to report a covid case to the Health Ministry, 12 June 2020 [Twitter]
Dr. Aalaa Shaaban Hamida was reported to the national security forces on the grounds that she was causing fear and panic after a nurse used her phone to report a covid case to the Health Ministry in Egypt, 12 June 2020 [Grippo/Facebook]

Social media users are building a campaign for a doctor who was reported to the national security forces after the Health Ministry was informed about a coronavirus case in the hospital where she worked in Alexandria.

In March, a nurse working in El-Shatby General Hospital used Dr. Aalaa Shaaban Hamida’s phone to report a covid case to the Health Ministry with the view of protecting patients and staff in the hospital, reports Egypt Watch.

However, the hospital’s manager Yasser Al-Kassar, along with the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine in Alexandria Wael Nabil, reported Aalaa to the national security forces on the grounds that she was causing fear and panic.

They then set a trap for her, inviting her to a meeting from which she never returned. Her phone has been switched off since then.

Aalaa later appeared at the Supreme State Security Prosecution under Case 558 for allegedly publishing and broadcasting false news and misusing social media.

READ: Covid preventative measures relaxed as Egyptians struggle to find hospital beds

There are at least three other doctors and a pharmacist currently being held on this case.

When Aalaa’s colleagues threatened to go on strike until the hospital administration revealed what had happened to her, they threatened to report them all to national security.

Activists are calling on Al-Kassar to tell them whether or not Aalaa is still being held under Case 558.

Despite the fact that the Health Ministry has said publicly that they are working with doctors to manage the pandemic, in reality authorities have started a campaign monitoring medics’ social media accounts to see if they criticise the government’s covid policy.

Since the start of the crisis in Egypt doctors have complained about the lack of PPE, tests and spaces in isolation units within hospitals, including for themselves when they become infected in the line of duty.

One of the doctors on Case 558 is Doctor Hani Khalil, 36, an eye surgeon at Toukh Hospital who was forcibly disappeared for 18 days before reappearing in the state prosecution building because he criticised the government’s decision to send medical aid to Italy whilst doctors at home were struggling.

READ: More prisons and fewer hospitals as the destruction of Egypt continues

Last Sunday Egypt’s medical union announced that 47 doctors had died of the virus after seven doctors died that weekend alone.

The medical union has called on the Health Ministry to step up efforts to protect their doctors and warned that the system is close to collapse.

Doctors in Mounira General Hospital recently resigned on mass to protest the death of their colleague Walid Yahya, 32, who died after being refused a test and a space in an isolation unit.

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