Health ministry urges COVID-19 booster shots for tourism sector workers

Ahram Online , Sunday 30 Jan 2022

Acting Minister of Health Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar called for administering booster coronavirus vaccine shots to workers in Egypt’s tourism sector in the near future, the ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

An Egyptian medical worker administers a dose of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. AFP

Abdel-Ghaffar made the remarks during a meeting with the health minister’s aides and heads of health directorates in the various governorates.

During the meeting, Abdel-Ghaffar also affirmed coordinating with the education ministry to vaccinate the rest of students in schools during the second semester, the statement said. Students are scheduled to start the second semester of the current academic year on 19 February.

The governorates of Beheira and Giza accounted for the largest share of children aged 12-18 who have received the coronavirus vaccine, Abdel-Ghaffar said.

Egypt is currently using the Pfizer vaccine to inoculate children in this age range and is studying lowering the minimum age to five-years-old.

Starting in November, Egypt expanded its vaccination campaign to schools, allowing students who might not otherwise receive the shot to be vaccinated.

Since it started its campaign in January last year, Egypt has completely vaccinated over 25.7 million people and provided booster shots to 615,876 people, according to the health ministry late on Saturday.

Egypt has seen a surge in coronavirus cases, setting a new record in the daily infections for the fifth consecutive day on Saturday since the start of the outbreak in the country in February 2020.

Earlier this month, Presidential Adviser for Health Affairs Mohamed Awad Tag El-Din confirmed that the highly infectious coronavirus variant Omicron is responsible for the vast majority of cases in Egypt.

Vaccinating tourism workers

In June last year, Egypt announced the full vaccination of staff working in key industries across both the Red Sea and South Sinai governorates, two of the country’s tourism hotspots.

In August, the health ministry also planned to complete the vaccination of tourism workers in Upper Egypt’s Luxor and Aswan by the end of the month.

This came as part of the measures Egypt has taken to recover tourism sector revenues, which are a key source of foreign currency and account for around 15 percent of Egypt's GDP.

Tourism revenues in Egypt bounced back in 2021 to the pre-pandemic levels, exceeding $13 billion, Deputy Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Ghada Shalaby told Reuters last week.

The tourism sector in Egypt was hit hard by the pandemic in 2020 in light of the temporary suspension of international travel and other preventive restrictions.

According to the tourism ministry early last year, the number of tourists visiting Egypt declined by over 70 percent in 2020, with revenues dropping to around EGP 4 billion from EGP 13 billion in 2019.

The recovery of the tourism sector has been reinforced as Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh cities received in August their first flights coming from Moscow after they had been suspended for almost six years. Russian tourists used to account for the majority of Red Sea tourism in Egypt.

The number of Russian tourists arriving to the Red Sea resorts since the resumption of direct flights has reached around 680,000 tourists, tourism expert Essam Ali told media in December.

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