People wearing plastic caps and protective goggles with face masks on walk near a residential compound, as the country is hit by a novel coronavirus outbreak in Beijing, China March 1, 2020 (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt’s health ministry on Sunday denied reports that two new cases of the novel coronavirus had been detected in the country, a day after the health minister said that it is highly likely more cases of the virus will occur.
The ministry "denies once again the detection of any diagnosed or suspected cases of the coronavirus across all governorates," spokesman Khaled Megahed said, dismissing reports that two suspected cases have been transferred to a hospital in northern Egypt to be quarantined.
Health Minister Hala Zayed on Saturday said there is "a high probability we [Egypt] will get the coronavirus," stressing that such pandemics are "unavoidable."
Those pandemics "cannot be entirely prevented…[but] their spread can be limited," she said in comments to satellite TV channel MBC Masr.
Egypt announced on Thursday that the person with the country's only detected case of the new virus had recovered and tested negative.
The outbreak has infected 86,000 people and killed about 3,000 since its outbreak in Wuhan, China in December.
Zayed said on Saturday that Egypt is prepared for three possible scenarios reviewed by WHO and the cabinet to face the deadly epidemic, based on the severity level of the outbreak, including "the worst possible scenario."
"It is not shameful for a country to have infections, the shame is in the inability to manage them," she said in a phone interview with MBC Masr.
Regarding the detection of cases in France, Canada, and Taiwan among people who had reportedly been in Egypt, the minister said that the possibility they got the virus in Egypt is very low, according to the WHO's standards.
"According to international standards, we can only say that those cases got their infection from Egypt if they stayed in the country for 14 continuous days and left on the fourteenth, then got diagnosed with the virus in the following 48 hours," she said
According to her, those two conditions do not apply to the cases.
Zayed said that the ministry has contacted France and Canada to find out the itinerary of the infected people while they were in Egypt.
By the time of Zayed's statement, Canada had not sent a response; France, however, had provided Egypt with the itineraries.
The minister has stressed that all necessary measures have been taken and all the people who engaged with the French cases have been examined, as have their lodgings.
The ministry will immediately announce any suspected cases once detected "with all transparency" and in coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO), the ministry spokesman said on Sunday.