A woman is pictured wearing a protective face mask, amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), before iftar, or breaking fast, during the holy month of Ramadan, in Cairo, Egypt May 21, 2020. (Reuters)
Egypt's health ministry reported 727 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, bringing the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 16513.
Egypt's first case was confirmed on 14 February. While it has taken the respiratory virus 50 days to reach 1,000 detected infections nationwide on 4 April, it only took two days to rise from 15,000 to 16,000.
Health ministry spokesmen Khaled Megahed said in a statement that the new cases were detected through the ministry’s investigation and contact tracing protocols.
The ministry said in a statement that the total number of COVID-19 deaths has now reached 735 nationwide, after announcing 28 deaths today, the highest single-day fatalities announced to date.
Megahed also said that 254 Egyptians have fully recovered and left isolation hospitals on Saturday, which brings the total number of recoveries from the virus so far to 4628.
The number of people whose test results have turned from positive to negative, including the recoveries, has now reached 5192.
Saturday’s toll comes one day after Egypt has detected 783 new coronavirus cases, the highest single-day rise to date, with 11 news deaths.
Despite the steadily rising infection rate in the last few days, officials expect the ratio to increase by the end of this week.
The number of cases is expected to reach 20,000 by 27-28 May, Egypt’s Higher Education Minister Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar said last Thursday.
However, Abdel-Ghaffar argued that the real number of coronavirus cases is likely higher than the number of cases officially detected, according to a hypothetical model, as "the real number of coronavirus infections in Egypt could be over 71,000."
The minister added that while the number of detected cases could reach 20,000 by the end of the May, the hypothetical model indicates that the real number could reach 100,000.
In a bid to contain the virus and stop any possible gatherings that could spread the contagion, the cabinet is imposing more stern measures during Eid Al-Fitr religious holiday, which begins tomorrow and lasts till Friday.
The stricter measures will see an extension of curfew hours and a suspension of public transportation, including public transport between governorates during the religious holiday.
Malls, beaches and parks will also be closed.
Microbuses, taxis and ride-hailing apps will be allowed to operate outside of curfew hours, which start at 5 pm.