Egypt's health minister Hala Zayed inspects field tents at Abbasiya Fevers Hospital (Photo Courtesy of MOH)
Egypt will begin operating "field tents" for suspected coronavirus patients at a Cairo fever hospital on Monday to prevent overcrowding inside the facility, the health ministry announced late on Saturday.
According to a statement, Health Minister Hala Zayed toured Abbasiya's Fever Hospital tents, which are prepared to be used as waiting and screening areas for suspected coronavirus patients.
She assured the availability of x-ray and testing equipment at tents to ensure swift medical services.
She inspected the development of a designated building at Abbasiya Chest Hospital, which will serve as a quarantine centre for coronavirus patients with a capacity of 166 beds starting next week.
Zayed also toured the hospital's laboratory after the ministry supplied a PCR device, with testing set to begin next week.
The move comes as the country works to expand the capacity of its health system to cope with a spike in coronavirus cases, as authorities seek to ease lockdown measures by the end of Ramadan, which falls next week.
Egypt reported 491 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, bringing the total number of detected cases up to 11,719.
It also reported 20 new coronavirus deaths on Saturday, bringing the total number of fatalities up to 612 nationwide
Egypt surpassed 11,000 coronavirus cases on Friday 15 May, almost three months after the first case was confirmed on 14 February. It took the respiratory virus seven weeks to reach 1,000 infections in Egypt, and five days to move from 10,000 to 11,000 cases.
Last month, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El Sisi issued a decree extending a nationwide state of emergency for three months starting Tuesday.
The ratification came after the parliament passed a number of amendments to a law regulating the state of emergency that give greater powers to the presidency and the military prosecution as authorities fight the coronavirus outbreak.
The amendments allow authorities to put in place a series of measures to contain the spread of the virus, some of which have already been enforced, including suspending schools and banning public and private gatherings.
The state will also be allowed to instruct private hospitals and their staff to help with public healthcare for a limited period in case of emergency, and to turn schools, youth centres and other state-owned facilities into field hospitals.