A man wearing a face mask carries his son on the street, as the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Cairo, Egypt May 30, 2020. (Reuters)
Egypt's health ministry reported on Saturday 1,367 new coronavirus infections, the highest single-day increase announced to date, bringing the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 23,449 since the detection of the first case on 14 February.
This is the third consecutive day for the country to witness a single-day record in the number of detected infections.
Health ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said in a statement that the new cases were detected through the ministry’s investigation and contact tracing protocols.
The statement added that the total number of COVID-19 deaths has now reached 913 nationwide, after announcing 34 deaths today.
Megahed also said that 182 Egyptians have fully recovered and left isolation hospitals on Saturday, which brings the total number of recoveries from the virus so far to 5,693.
The number of people whose test results have turned from positive to negative, including the recoveries, has now reached 6,456.
Despite the gradual reopening of the country's commercial activities, the cabinet has imposed more stern measures starting from today (30 May) till mid-June to contain the spread of the virus.
Instead of starting at 5 pm, the night-time curfew, in place since 25 March, will be in effect from 8 pm to 6 am starting 30 May for two weeks. Malls and shops, which were closed during the Eid El-Fitr holiday, will be open daily until 5 pm during the two-week period.
Starting from today till 15 June, private and public transportation will be operational until the start of curfew hours.
Other businesses like cafes, sporting clubs and gyms will remain closed during these two weeks, and violators will be subject to a fine of up to EGP 4,000 and/or imprisonment.
According to a decree by the cabinet, facemasks will be mandatory for workers or visitors at markets, shops, banks, governmental or private institutions, as well as for commuters taking public or private transportation. Violators will be subject to a fine of up to EGP 4,000.
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi asked on his Twitter and Facebook accounts last Thursday for the Egyptian people to maintain solidarity and stand together during this “important moment” to face the coronavirus pandemic.
While it took Egypt 50 days to reach the milestone of the first 1,000 infections on 4 April, last Friday alone saw 1,289 cases of coronavirus detected, the highest single-day toll of infections till yesterday.
Despite the steadily rising rate of infection in the last few days, officials say that the infection rate has not reached its peak, with the numbers expected to continue to rise till mid-June.
The health adviser to the presidency Awad Tag El-Din said last Wednesday that Egypt will reach the peak of the coronavirus infections after two weeks.
Moreover, on 21 May, Egypt’s Higher Education Minister Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar said that the real number of coronavirus cases could be 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."
In an attempt to cope with the increasing number of cases, the health ministry announced on Friday that it will deploy medical convoys to distribute medical kits or deliver them to homes, starting in the governorates of Daqahliya, Sharqiya, Giza, Qalioubiya, Ismailia, Minya and South Sinai.
According to the statement, the medical kits include preventative supplies and drugs that are in line with the medical protocol set by the ministry’s scientific committee.
Hospitals will also distribute the kits to people with mild coronavirus symptoms currently in home isolation, depending on the medical protocol for each case, the ministry spokesman added.
The ministry also launched the mobile application Sehet Masr (Health of Egypt) to follow-up on patients who are self-isolated at home. The app will also serve as a substitute to its phone hotline (105).
The app answers frequently asked questions and provides the addresses and phone numbers of hospitals that conduct coronavirus tests, with maps showing the exact location of these hospitals. The app allows users to also report coronavirus cases, learn about the instructions for home isolation procedures as well as guidelines on treatment and prevention.