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Egypt's medical union demands designating isolation hospitals for infected medics

Ahram Online , Wednesday 20 May 2020
[ile photo taken on April 19, 2020, an Egyptian doctor wearing two protective masks checks a patient
[ile photo taken on April 19, 2020, an Egyptian doctor wearing two protective masks checks a patient's lung X-ray at the infectious diseases unit of the Imbaba hospital in the capital Cairo, during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic crisis. (AFP)
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The Egyptian Medical Union, which comprises medical, pharmaceutical, veterinary and dentistry syndicates, has demanded the designation of isolation hospitals nationwide for medical staff infected with the coronavirus to help frontline workers in the fight against the pandemic.

"The union appeals to the health ministry and concerned authorities to allocate isolation hospitals across the country to treat infected medical staff and provide healthcare for them until they recover and return back to work," the union wrote in a letter a copy of which was sent to President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, and Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal.

The Egyptian Medical Syndicate has made a similar call earlier this month, requesting the allocation of at least one isolation hospital for infected medical staff and the increase of the number of isolation hospitals, in general, to keep up with the rising tally of cases, which reached 13,484 on Wednesday, with 559 fatalities.

In the letter it published on Wednesday, the union urged speeding up regular PCR tests for all health workers to help with the "early detection of infections and to provide the treatment before it becomes too late."

The numbers of infections and deaths among medics have been on the rise recently owing to the lack of necessary tests for medical staff, the letter noted.

Many hospital staff members have taken to social media to complain about the reluctance of hospital managements to conduct necessary tests for them despite having come into contact with coronavirus patients.

The health ministry has not provided a tally of the doctors who have been infected or died from the flu-like virus so far. But until Wednesday, 14 doctors were confirmed by the doctors' syndicate to have died of the coronavirus.

The syndicate has repeatedly urged conducting PCR tests to all medical staff, voicing concerns over the new regulations to carry out tests for "suspected" cases only which it said would further put health workers at risk.

The World Health Organisation said last month that infections among medical staff make up around 13 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Egypt.

A health ministry spokesman said earlier this month that only 12 percent of infected medical staff members contracted the virus while on duty, while the rest got infected outside medical facilities. 

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