Egypt's Health Minister Hala Zayed has appealed to suspected coronavirus cases to head to the nearest of 376 hospitals that have been designated to receive cases in an attempt to reduce the burden on hospitals specialised in fever and chest problems, the ministry said in a statement.
Zayed's statements were made during an inspection tour Tuesday of a number of hospitals across Cairo as part of efforts to monitor their performance.
The minister's call comes days after her remarks that "some families prefer to treat their infected member at home,” describing it as "a phenomenon,” adding that most cases come to hospitals very late.
"Anyone who has respiratory symptoms or a high fever should consider himself infected and has to go to the nearest hospital immediately," Zayed said earlier this week.
The call, however, came amid citizen complaints about a shortage of hospital beds, with some claiming they can barely find hospitals in which to treat their relatives.
The minister emphasised during her tour the increase in the number of beds in all hospitals that receive suspected and infected cases of coronavirus nationwide to more than 35,000 beds, and 5,800 ICU beds.
According to health ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed, Zayed stated that coronavirus tests and also treatments are provided free of charge in the ministry's hospitals.
All general hospitals in Egypt started from 21 May to provide coronavirus tests, including conducting clinical examinations as well as running blood tests and chest x-rays, and PCR tests.
As for the cost of coronavirus treatment at private hospitals, the ministry announced on Monday setting a fixed cost for Covid-19 treatment at such facilities ranging from EGP 1,500 to EGP 10,000 (approximately $90 to $600) covering hospital services, medical supplies, doctors’ fees, accommodation, and testing.
The ministry's fixed prices were announced the day after prime ministerial directive to cap the cost of coronavirus treatment at private medical facilities to correct some "exaggerated prices."
Tuesday saw the detection of 1,152 new coronavirus infections – a decline for the second day in a row down from 1,536 on Sunday and 1,399 on Monday – in Egypt where it had taken the virus 50 days to reach the milestone of the first 1,000 infections nationwide since the detection of the first case on 14 February.
Despite the steady rise of infections' Egypt has been witnessing in recent days, Zayed said that "we cannot confirm or deny that we are now witnessing the peak stage.”
"We will not be able to determine the peak stage until after it has passed and the rate of infections begins to decrease for two consecutive weeks," Zayed said Saturday, appealing to all citizens to adhere to wearing face masks or even "a piece of cotton cloth" before coming out of their homes.
Masks became mandatory, according to a cabinet decree, starting Saturday for workers or visitors at markets, shops, banks, governmental or private institutions, as well as for commuters taking public or private transportation with violators subject to a fine of up to EGP 4,000.