A medical worker wearing a protective face mask and gloves shows the free medicines provided by the ministry of health to people who are in contact with those who have contracted the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at a medical centre in Cairo, Egypt June 3, 2020. REUTERS
Egypt's health ministry reported on Saturday 1,497 new coronavirus infections, bringing the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 32,612 since the detection of the first case on 14 February.
Health ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said in a statement that the new cases were detected through the ministry’s investigation and contact tracing protocols.
The statement added that the total number of COVID-19 deaths has now reached 1,198 nationwide, after announcing 32 deaths today.
Megahed also said that 380 patients have fully recovered and left isolation hospitals on Saturday, which brings the total number of recoveries from the virus so far to 8,538 cases.
The number of people whose test results have turned from positive to negative, including the full recoveries, has now reached 9,603.
"The governorates that have recorded the highest rate of coronavirus infections are Cairo, Giza and Qalioubia, while the governorates of the Red Sea, Marsa Matrouh and South Sinai recorded the lowest rates," Megahed said, adding that he urges citizens to adhere to preventive measures and follow social distancing guidelines.
The health ministry recently adopted clinical examination results, chest x-rays, and laboratory analyses as a means of diagnosing suspected cases of coronavirus, with those testing positive to start receiving treatment immediately until the result of the PCR test appears.
Health Minister Hala Zayed said in a separate statement on Saturday that the coronavirus' treatment protocols that Egypt adopts "are constantly updated."
The latest update, the minister says, includes the removal of the drug "Tamiflu" from the treatment protocols, as it has not proven effective in treating patients, while the use of the antimalarial drug "Hydroxychloroquine" remains within the treatment protocols.
Egypt recorded its the highest single-day rise in coronavirus infections last Sunday 31 May with 1,536 positive cases, and its biggest daily spike of deaths on Tuesday 2 June with 47 fatalities.
On Friday, Zayed reiterated the ministry’s plea for those who have recovered from coronavirus to head to the nearest ministry-affiliated blood transfusion centre to donate plasma to contribute to the treatment of critical coronavirus cases, stressing that they should do so only after 14 days have passed since the date of their recovery.
The blood transfusion centres open for blood donations include the National Centre for Blood Transfusion in Giza's El-Agouza district, in addition to a number of centres in the governorates of Alexandria, Minya, Luxor and Gharbiya, a statement by the ministry said.
"The blood plasma experiments have shown promising initial results, with a good patient recovery rate and a reduction in the need for ventilators," the minister said.
The ministry first introduced the plasma therapy trials in Egypt on 30 April.
Meanwhile, the government has begun reopening a number of suspended facilities and businesses, as it is looking to return to normal operations starting the second half of June, cabinet spokesman Nader Saad said last week.
Marking this gradual reopening, the cabinet has issued a decree making the wearing of facemasks mandatory in public places starting 30 May.
Since the start of last week, facemasks have become obligatory for workers or visitors at markets, shops, banks, governmental or private institutions, as well as for commuters taking public or private transportation, with violators facing a fine of up to EGP 4,000.
Minister of Trade and Industry Nevine Gamea said last week in a telephone interview with MBC Misr Channel that washable cloth masks, which can be reused up to 30 times, will be available within days for commercial sale at EGP 5.
"While the normal mask is disposable, the cloth mask will be valid for repeated use – from 20 to 30 times – provided that it is washed daily," Gamea said, adding that masks have become a necessity in the daily life of Egyptians.