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FAQ: Third wave of the coronavirus in Egypt

Ahram Online is here to answer some of the pressing questions concerning the current state of COVID-19 in Egypt

Zeinab El-Gundy , Wednesday 17 Mar 2021
Egypt
File photo: People wearing protective face masks stand inside Cairo's underground metro (Photo: Reuters)
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With a third wave of the coronavirus sweeping across countries around the world, Ahram Online is here to answer some of the pressing questions concerning the current state of COVID-19 in Egypt.

Is Egypt currently witnessing a third wave of the coronavirus?

According to Egypt’s Minister of Health Hala Zayed, the country has not yet entered the third wave, but it may do so by April, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.

Ramadan will start on 13 April and end on 12 May, and there are fears that the social gatherings that usually take place during the holy month will cause an increase in infections.

During Ramadan, friends and family gather at dusk to break their fast and mass evening prayers (Taraweeh) take place in mosques.

Will the coronavirus vaccine mitigate the effects of the third wave?

The vaccine is not expected to have much of an impact on the third wave of the pandemic, as the vast majority of Egyptians have not yet been vaccinated.

Egypt has already started its vaccination campaign against the coronavirus which began mid- January, focusing on healthcare workers, the elderly, and patients with chronic diseases.

Some 207,000 medical personnel – including doctors, nurses, administrators, and workers – in 40 hospitals nationwide are set to be vaccinated in the near future.

The total number of medical workers targeted for vaccination in hospitals is 207,000, including doctors, nurses, administrators, and workers.

According to health ministry officials, between 1,000 and 2,000 Egyptians are being vaccinated daily in Egypt, and, so far, some 10,000 healthcare workers have been vaccinated.

The vaccines currently available in Egypt are China’s Sinopharm and the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines.

The first batch of vaccines Egypt acquired were from China’s Sinopharm in December 2020. In the same month, the finance ministry announced that it had signed a contract to receive 20 million doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.

In January 2021, Egypt received 50,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

In February 2021, the second batch of Sinopharm vaccines was received and Health Minister Zayed announced that the government had signed a deal to import another 100 million doses.

In the same month, Egypt announced that it approved the emergency use of the Russian Sputnik vaccine and reserved 10 million doses. It is unclear when Egypt is going to receive the Sputnik and Pfizer vaccines.

Within the upcoming two weeks, a shipment of four million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be delivered to Egypt through GAVI.

It is unclear if the reports concerning the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe and its suspension in seven countries will have an impact in Egypt.

Will another lockdown be put in place during the expected third wave?

Regarding a possible new lockdown, Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said in February 2021 that the country’s economy does not have the luxury of going through a second lockdown, so it is unlikely that one will be imposed.

However, it is unclear if the government will take any restrictive or preventative measurements if an outbreak takes place in the coming weeks.

Schools and universities resumed this week after about a month-and-a-half hiatus due to concerns over the virus.

Following a request from Minister of Culture Ines Abdel-Dayem, Egypt's Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly approved on Sunday the nationwide return of arts and culture activities, with attendance at cultural events capped at 50 percent capacity.

When did Egypt experience its first wave of coronavirus?

According to the health ministry, the peak of the first wave was in June 2020, when Egypt recorded 43,326 infections.

The peak took place following Ramadan (23 April to 23 May 2020).

During the first wave, the Egyptian government imposed a semi-lockdown, with restrictions on gatherings in public places and restaurants, and banned travel for several months, before finally lifting the lockdown in September.

When did the second wave take place?

Egypt saw a second wave of the virus in November and December 2020.

In late December 2020 and early January 2021, the number of cases began to decline; however, infections started to steadily increase again in February 2021, according to the health ministry.

According to a study released by the Egyptian Centre for Public Opinion Research 'Baseera' last week, 867,000 Egyptians aged 18 and above may have been infected by COVID-19 in November and December 2020.

During the second wave, schools and universities resorted to online study after an online campaign was launched by parents and students.

Coronavirus facts in Egypt

  • Egypt has officially recorded 192,195 cases so far, including 11,384 fatalities and 148,089 recoveries.
  • In a television interview in January, Minister Zayed said that the number of recorded cases represents only 10 to 15 percent of the real numbers of cases in all countries, including Egypt.
  • According to a study released by Baseera, 2.9 million Egyptians may have been infected by the coronavirus in 2020.
  • Cairo is the governorate with the highest number of recorded coronavirus cases, according to the ministry of health and the Egyptian Medical Syndicate.
  • North Sinai and New Valley are the governorates with the lowest number of cases.
  • On Saturday, the Egyptian Medical Syndicate recorded the 400th fatality among its members due to the coronavirus.
  • According to the Egyptian Medical Syndicate and the Union of Medical Professions, at least 10,000 coronavirus cases have been recorded among healthcare workers including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists.
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