Egypt's health minister announced on Monday that non-hospitalised coronavirus patients across the country will be monitored at home starting Wednesday even if they were not initially diagnosed by the ministry's system.
In a press conference, Minister of Health Hala Zayed said that while non-hospitalized cases had previously been only contacted via phone, the new initiative aims to guarantee that cases in self-isolation which deteriorate do not reach hospitals in critical condition.
Minister Zayed explained that under the country’s coronavirus treatment protocol, patients with mild and moderate COVID-19 symptoms are treated at home to free up beds for critical cases at state-run isolation hospitals.
The new strategy will be applied to all cases quarantined at home, even if they are not registered among the health ministry’s official tallies, according to Minister Zayed.
Zayed said the decision was made since many coronavirus patients who display mild symptoms do not seek PCR testing at the health ministry's laboratories, which is responsible for recording infections, and choose to be monitored by private physicians.
The number of home-treated cases, therefore, do not get included in the ministry’s official tallies, Zayed explained.
She noted that the registered cases of coronavirus do not represent the real numbers on the ground throughout the world.
“This always happens in pandemics… the USA itself said the numbers of coronavirus infections on the ground are six to 24 times higher than the registered numbers,” she stressed.
The new initiative will be implemented gradually as of Wednesday via the the 100 Million Health Programme, an Egyptian presidential plan that began in 2018 to screen Egyptians for non-communicable and chronic diseases through mobile health units countrywide.
According to Zayed, the 100 Million Health Programme’s staff will follow up on the condition of all self-isolating coronavirus patients in all neighbourhoods nationwide and measure their oxygen saturation level, which is negatively affected by COVID-19.
Patients who are susceptible to deterioration will be given pulse oximeter devices so they can measure the level of oxygen in their blood themselves periodically. If their readings record a rate lower than 90 percent, they will be transferred to the hospital.
The initiative will cover 100 percent of non-hospitalised cases within two weeks, the minister said.
The minister also explained that the state has an electronic network by which it can easily identify the occupancy and ventilator use rates, as well as oxygen supply at each hospital in every Egyptian governorate.
The system allows the ministry to determine whether hospitals have enough beds to receive more critical cases, she explained.
Zayed added that the daily coronavirus infections toll recorded in Egypt has continued to decline for the fourth day in a row, with 1,277 new people testing positive for the virus on Monday.
The daily infection toll has been on a downward curve since this weekend, with 1,409 infections recorded on Friday, 1,407 on Saturday, and 1,309 on Sunday.
Since the last week of December, the country has been facing a second wave of the virus, with daily tolls above the 1,000-case threshold.
On Thursday, the country recorded the biggest-one day increase in almost five months, with 1,418 cases.