Egypt's coronavirus cases surpass 1,000 milestone

Ahmed Morsy , Saturday 4 Apr 2020

Older men wearing protective masks amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) walk on the Qasr el-Nil Bridge across the Nile river in Egyptian capital Cairo, Egypt March 31, 2020. (photo: Reuters)

Egypt's health ministry reported 85 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, bringing the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 1,070.

The ministry said in a statement that the total number of COVID-19 deaths has now reached 71 nationwide, after announcing five deaths today.

Earlier, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly had urged Egyptians to comply with the measures the state has taken, warning that the country could reach the "dangerous" milestone of 1,000 infections. Health Minister Hala Zayed has also said that it would be hard to track the origin of each case if the number of infections reached 1,000.

In today's statement, health ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said that the newly-detected 85 cases are all Egyptians who had either recently returned from abroad or had been in contact with previously announced positive cases.

Today's five deaths were also all Egyptians, he added.

Megahed also said that 25 people, including three foreigners, have fully recovered and left isolation hospitals on Saturday, which brings the total number of recoveries from the virus so far to 241.

The number of people whose test results have turned from positive to negative has now reached 306, he said.

The ministry has designated two hotlines (105 and 15335) to receive citizens' inquiries about the coronavirus and other infectious diseases.

According to Health Minister Hala Zayed, more than 70 percent of the cases detected had come in contact with previously identified carriers. Others tested positive after arriving from abroad.

In response, the health ministry announced last week that it has extended the home quarantine period mandated for arrivals from abroad to 28 days instead of two weeks.

Egypt reported yesterday its highest daily increase in coronavirus cases and deaths, with 120 new cases and eight fatalities, bringing the total number of infections to 985 nationwide, while the death toll stands at 66.

On 24 March, Madbouly announced a curfew from 7pm to 6am for two weeks as part of stricter measures to limit the spread of the virus.

During curfew hours, all mass public and private transport is suspended and all shops and malls are closed, while supermarkets, pharmacies and bakeries remain open.

Moreover, the cabinet had already halted international flights, banned mass gatherings, shuttered cinemas, mosques and churches and suspended communal prayers.

Authorities have warned that those who break the curfew are subject to penalties under the country’s emergency law, which range from a fine of EGP 4,000 ($253) to imprisonment.

On Friday, the parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal expressed his deep thanks for the measures that have so far been taken and declared his support for the medical teams who are working day and night to contain the virus which has infected the majority of the world’s countries.

Two days ago, Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait said that President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has instructed the ministry to raise the monthly bonus of intern doctors who work in university and Al-Azhar hospitals from EGP 400 to EGP 700 to receive EGP 2,200 per month.

In addition, El-Sisi ordered earlier last week a 75 percent increase in monthly allowances given to medical professionals at a total cost of EGP 2.25 billion, as part of government efforts to support members of the healthcare sector amid the coronavirus crisis.

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