Egypt’s health minister announced on Monday that the country’s daily rates of coronavirus infections dropped by 21 percent so far in January compared to the last week of December.
During a press briefing, Minister of Health Hala Zayed said the last week of 2020 witnessed a noticeable rise in positive coronavirus cases, while the daily rates of patients referred to the intensive care units dropped by 8 percent.
She added that the daily rate of suspected cases received by coronavirus-designated hospitals decreased by 15 percent too, while the rates of cases admitted to hospital daily decreased by 11 percent.
The daily recovery rate increased by 5 percent in the same period, she said.
Egypt has been witnessing a second wave of the pandemic since the last week of December after the country recorded double the number of infections daily.
The spike comes after almost five months of reporting lower daily infections and death tolls.
However, less than 1000 new cases have been reported over the past three days.
The minister explained that the number of people who succumbed to the coronavirus in the second wave of the pandemic is 50 percent less than the number recorded in the first wave.
Zayed's remarks come one day after Ahmed Al-Mandhari, the World Health Organisation regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean, said that, as of 6 January, Egypt has been among the countries with the highest reported number of coronavirus-related deaths in the Eastern Mediterranean region.
The minister also assured the public of the availability of oxygen tanks, which has become a main pillar in the coronavirus treatment protocols, given its ability to improve patients' breathing performance.
The ministry has increased oxygen supply to all hospitals by 50 percent through doubling the production rate at a number of factories producing medical oxygen and also doubling the number of oxygen transport vehicles to meet hospital needs, stated Zayed.
According to the updated treatment protocol for coronavirus patients, oxygen is vital for treating ICU patients and cases of patients with moderate illness.
Monday was the third consecutive day to see no shortage in oxygen supplies in hospitals, the minister added.
The minister attributed problems in transportation of oxygen tanks to hospitals to delays caused by recent foggy weather conditions in Egypt, which, she added, led to the suspension of transportation operations from 8 hours to 12 hours on some days.
The minister stressed in her statements that the shortage in oxygen supplies is not a challenge only for Egypt but also for all the countries dealing with the pandemic.
A spike in consumption of oxygen was recorded in most regions of the world over the last three weeks, Zayed expalined.
The minister indicated that Cairo, Giza, and Qalioubiya will be included in the initiative launched by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to monitor non-hospitalised coronavirus patients at home.
She added that all governorates will be included as well as soon as the supplies of blood oxygen saturation monitors increase.
Egypt has already received the first batch of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, and 34 centres have been allocated nationwide for the long-awaited vaccination mission.
In a telephone interview with MBC satellite channel on Monday, the minister said the inoculations will start in all governorates right after the second batch arrives in early February.
Egypt's Drug Authority (EDA) has already approved the emergency use of the Chinese vaccine on 2 January, almost three weeks after the first shipment was received.
The EDA is currently working on procuring Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and is expected to issue emergency approval soon, according to Zayed.
She added that Egypt is expected to receive a shipment of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine within two to three weeks from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations.
Egypt has asked Pfizer to present its registration file to Egypt, according to the health minister.
She highlighted that medical teams, people with chronic diseases, and the elderly will be prioritised when vaccinations start.