Men are seen walking at El-Moez street in El-Hussein and El-Azhar district as mosques are closed in old Islamic Cairo, as Egypt ramps up efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Cairo, Egypt, April 6, 2020. (photo: Reuters)
Egypt's health ministry reported on Saturday 145 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of cases so far to 1,939 nationwide.
The ministry also announced 11 new deaths from the virus, bringing the total number of fatalities to 146.
Health ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said on Friday that 30 percent of those who died since the first infection was discovered in February had passed away before reaching the isolation hospitals.
According to statements by the health minister also on Friday during a cabinet meeting, Egypt has 12 functioning quarantine hospitals nationwide – with more that have been prepared – that include 2,241 beds and 407 ICU beds, and are equipped with 346 ventilators.
Egypt has 47 fever hospitals and 35 pulmonology hospitals for triage and the admittance of coronavirus patients before they are taken to quarantine hospitals, according to the minister.
The health ministry also said in its statement that 37 Egyptians and 5 foreigners fully recovered and left isolation hospitals on Saturday, which brings the total number of recoveries from the virus so far to 426.
The number of patients whose test results have turned from positive to negative, including complete recoveries, has now reached 542, spokesman Megahed said.
Over the past week, the average daily toll of infections in Egypt ranged from 120 to 150 cases.
Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said in a televised speech on Wednesday that the number of coronavirus infections Egypt is witnessing so far “is very close to the scenarios anticipated from the beginning by the government.”
"In the coming three weeks, an increase in the daily rate of infections will occur... we expect that. However, the most important thing is that the upcoming increase should be simple and gradual, because the fear lies in an exponential rise in daily numbers, for example 150 cases on one day and 250-300 others the next day," said the prime minister. "This would mean that we are approaching the scenario of countries where things have gotten out of control."
On 8 April, Egypt extended a nationwide night-time curfew, first imposed on 25 March, by two weeks until 23 April. The extended curfew now begins at 8 pm instead of the previous 7 pm.
Health Minister Hala Zayed affirmed on Friday that Egypt is adhering to the recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO) with regard to the investigation and testing procedures, which stipulate that tests for the virus should be administered only to those who display symptoms.
A few days ago, Hussam Hosny, head of the health ministry's scientific committee to combat the coronavirus, said in TV statements that 25,000 coronavirus tests have been conducted so far, and that the ministry is increasing its capacity to around 2,000 tests daily.
In this regard, during a video broadcast on Wednesday by the health ministry’s official page dedicated to answering inquiries about the virus, head of the ministry's Central Department of Laboratories Nancy El-Gendy said the coronavirus test results are ready six hours after the test is conducted.
"There are 23 ministry-affiliated laboratories nationwide that perform tests to detect coronavirus infection, and within a week, another six laboratories will be added," El-Gendy said.
The ministry said in a statement today that it has launched a dedicated messaging service on WhatsApp to respond to inquiries about the coronavirus pandemic, through the designated 01553105105 line or https://wa.me/201553105105, which opens a conversation on WhatsApp.
Two days earlier, the ministry launched a mobile application on Google Store and iOS to track new coronavirus cases and those who have come in contact with infected individuals.
The two services aim to ease congestion on the ministry’s hotlines designated for reporting coronavirus cases. The health ministry says it received 477,257 inquiries in March through its 105 and 15335 hotlines.
Among the 300 operators receiving the citizens' inquiries through the hotlines, the ministry has launched an English-language hotline for foreigners residing in Egypt.