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Saturday, 05 December 2020

Egypt controlled first coronavirus wave but pandemic threat not over: Health ministry official

The state has no interest in hiding the real number of infections, the official said

Ahmed Morsy , Saturday 19 Sep 2020
Coronavirus in Egypt
File Photo: A man wearing a protective face mask to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) walks next to a wall with an image of the Great Pyramids painted on it, in Cairo(Photo: Reuters)
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Egypt has controlled the first wave of the coronavirus, said Hossam Hosny, head of the health ministry's scientific committee to combat the coronavirus on Friday.

He stressed the danger of the pandemic hasn't receded, however, referring to a possible second wave.

"Controlling the first wave means infection rates are within reasonable limits that do not burden the health system and medicines and means of protection are available," Hosny explained on TV.

He urged people to remain adherent to preventative measures, maintain social distance, and wear face masks, mandatory since 30 May.
Egypt has maintained a rate of less than 200 coronavirus infections per day since August. In recent weeks, the figure dropped to around 150.

The government has repeatedly urged caution to avoid a second wave of the pandemic, particularly with the advent of autumn and the beginning of the new academic year.

However, Egypt is well prepared in case a second coronavirus wave strikes, Hosny added.

"In June and July, when infections were at their peak, the health ministry's isolation hospitals were operating at 90 percent of their capacity along with university and private hospitals. At present, only the ministry's hospitals are concerned with treating coronavirus cases and they are operating with five percent of their capacity," he said.

On Thursday, health minister Hala Zayed said the total number of home-isolating coronavirus patients in Egypt has reached 10,168 cases since the ministry launched its programme for non-hospitalised cases in July. The programme is implemented in coordination with the World Health Organisation.

"As is the case with the majority of countries, Egypt performs target screening rather than mass screening," Hosny replied about the low numbers of daily infections in Egypt and whether they are related to the reduced number of PCR tests performed.

"Target screening means performing swabs for patients exhibiting certain symptoms. The procedure follows CT scans and laboratory analyses to identify suspected cases," he said, adding that the state has no interest in hiding the real number of infections.

Nevertheless, a doctor at Al-Abbasiya Fever Hospital’s Virus Lab told Ahram Online earlier that “only the critical cases, which are the minority, are diagnosed through PCR tests, while the majority of cases are diagnosed through CT scans. However, the ministry’s daily toll is calculated based on PCR positive tests regardless of the number of positive cases diagnosed through CT scans.”

Hosny added that if there was an intention to hide coronavirus infection numbers, it would rather be to conceal the numbers of deaths.

According to a report published on 14 September by the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics, the number of males that died in Egypt since the pandemic has started reached 2,911 people compared to 2,254 female deaths.

Egypt gradually reopened the economy in June, lifting a night-time curfew, reopening restaurants and places of worship, and resuming regular international flights as part of its plans to coexist with the virus. The cabinet has warned, however, that restrictions will be reimposed should infection rates increase.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly announced a further easing of restrictions. Starting 21 September open-air funerals, wedding ceremonies, film festivals and conferences will be allowed with strict precautionary measures

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