Egyptian Doctors Syndicate asks government to extend partial curfew for three weeks

Zeinab El-Gundy , Thursday 21 May 2020

People wait outside a bakery and pastry shop named "The Baker" and known as "El Khabaz", for traditional Eid al-Fitr festivities sweets and biscuits, amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the Cairo suburb of Maadi, Egypt May 21, 2020. REUTERS

Egypt’s Doctors Syndicate demanded on Thursday that the government extend the current curfew for another three weeks to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

In an online press conference broadcast via the syndicate’s Facebook page, syndicate officials renewed their demand that the health ministry expand its PCR testing for both medical teams and the public in general, as well as that it locally manufacture PCR kits.

The curfew will run from 5pm to 6am for a week starting from Sunday; the doctors are demanding that is extended for three further weeks after this.

Currently the PCR testing kits needed to diagnose COVID-19 are imported from China or the UK.

The syndicate also renewed its demand that the government assign special isolation hospitals for the members of medical teams who contract the virus, to reduce the spread of the disease among patients and society more broadly.

The demand to assign special isolation hospitals for medical teams has been raised in the past two weeks by the Nurses Syndicate, which demanded police and military hospitals be opened as isolation hospitals for infected medical teams, and by the union of medical professions, which also demanded special isolation hospitals.

According to the Doctors Syndicate, four doctors, including two university professors, passed away in the past 48 hours from the virus, in a major blow to the medical sector in Egypt.

So far over 300 Egyptian doctors have contracted the virus, aside from nurses and other medical professions, including pharmacists, administrators, and other medical workers.

Egypt has officially logged 15,003 cases and 696 fatalities, as of Thursday.

Dr. Ehab El-Taher, the Doctors Syndicate secretary-general, stated during the press conference that the health ministry’s recent plan to deal with the spread of the virus in the country which was unveiled on Wednesday was good but it needed certain things to make it succeed.

“The ministry said the 320 centralised and general hospitals nationwide will be used for coronavirus screening and testing. We need full medical and protective supplies for those hospitals to be ready for this,” he said.

“The counter-infection teams should be sent from the ministry to divide those hospitals internally into green zones and red zones, to make sure that the coronavirus does not reach other sections in those hospitals,” he added, hinting there should be full protection for doctors in hospitals.

El-Taher also demanded that the medical teams in those hospitals be fully trained in dealing with possible coronavirus patients. He gave an example of an outbreak of the coronavirus among the medical team of Manshyat El-Bakry hospital in Cairo when it was turned in to an isolation hospital without proper preparation of its team.

As well as discussing the coronavirus crisis, the press conference also discussed the new doctors’ assignment system announced by the ministry on Wednesday.

According to the syndicate, at this critical time, the ministry can adopt the old assignment system to deal with all controversial issues, so that newly graduated doctors can join the system quickly.

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