The spike in coronavirus cases is within predicted norms: Egypt's health minister

Sama Osama , Saturday 2 May 2020

Hala Zayed
Egypt's Minister of Health Hala Zayed (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Minister of Health Hala Zayed said the recent rise in the number of coronavirus cases is still within the predicted norms, adding that the cases detected on Friday were the result of more than 6,000 PCR tests.

Egypt reported on Friday 358 new coronavirus cases, marking the highest single-day toll and bringing the number of cases to 5,895, the health ministry said.

Zayed told MBC Masr satellite channel on Friday that the situation in Egypt is still safe as long as the week’s numbers are not double those of the previous week.

She said the death toll recorded on Wednesday -- the highest daily toll with 22 fatalities -- had seen 12 cases die before their PCR tests results were out.

She added that according to statistics, 27-30 percent of the fatalities die before reaching isolation hospitals, and 31 percent die within the first four days at the hospital.

She attributed the recent increase in the number of cases to “people’s habits outside curfew hours,” especially during the two weeks that preceded Ramadan.

According to the minister, the movement of people to markets decreased by 40 percent when the crisis had started. However, during the two weeks preceding Ramadan, people frequented markets only 11 percent less than normal, which means that people are going out more.

The minister said people have to adapt to the presence of coronavirus until a vaccine is found. People can go out but they should maintain social distancing, she added.

“It doesn’t matter when the curfew starts, what matters is our habits outside its hours,” the minister said.

“During the coming period the world will be gradually restoring normalcy while applying precautionary measures,” she added, “what will matter is people's behaviour."

Zayed said that people should develop new norms and lifestyles during what she called a “transitional period” until a vaccine is found.
What will also matter is not the daily infection and death tolls, rather the preventive measures adopted on the macro and micro levels, she stated.

Zayed warned that many children who contracted the virus are in isolation hospitals because their parents allowed them to go out and socialise.

She said the ministry will be bringing back waiting lists and health initiatives like "100 Million Health" and the women’s health programme upon the directives of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

“Life will not stop because of the coronavirus, all healthcare services should resume,” she said.

She asserted that Egypt’s healthcare system has the flexibility to accommodate the coronavirus cases and provide other health services.

She said that only 17 out of the 30 isolation hospitals prepared for the second phase of the pandemic are occupied.

Two weeks ago, the ministry started preparing 81 fever and pulmonology hospitals to not only receive, test and redirect cases, but to also isolate and treat them, the minister stated, noting that in 45 days 30 of these will also be prepared to isolate and treat patients.

The minister noted that the newly applied system of placing mild cases in quarantine facilities (hotels, hostels and dorms) has proven successful, as it alleviated the burden on hospitals, and many of the cases admitted there have recovered.

Regarding the plasma therapy trials announced by the health ministry on Thursday, Zayed said that two cases have responded to the medication.

Zayed added that five weeks ago Egypt requested the antiviral drug Remdesivir which Trump announced on Friday the US Food and Drug Administration had authorised for emergency use.

On Friday, the ministry reported 14 new fatalities, bringing the total number of deaths to 406.

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