A file photo of two Egyptians wearing face masks walk along a street in Shubra El-Kheima, El-Qalyubia Governorate, north of Cairo (photo: Reuters)
Egypt's health ministry detected 644 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing total infection toll nationwide to 194,771 since the emergence of the pandemic in early 2020.
In its daily statement, the ministry also reported 45 deaths, raising the death toll to 11,557 fatalities.
As many as 233 patients have been discharged from hospitals nationwide over the past 24 hours to mark total recoveries at 149,489, the statement added.
Health Minister Hala Zayed said earlier on Saturday that the ministry targets to vaccinate around 250,000 medical workers and eligible citizens against COVID-19 by the end of this week.
The health ministry has recently launched a mass vaccination campaign against COVID-19 after allowing online registration in February for medical staff members, and elders with priority given to patients with chronic diseases.
The expansion of the vaccination campaign came after the ministry concluded the vaccination of medical workers at isolation hospitals.
The minister’s remarks came during a video-conference meeting with health officials nationwide, in which she directed an increase in the number of medical centres allocated for administering the vaccine doses at governorates that have the highest registration rates on the vaccine-designated website.
The vaccination of eligible groups of citizens - in which the ministry uses the Chinese Sinopharm and British AstraZeneca vaccines - is currently carried out through 40 health units nationwide, after registering on the website.
The second dose of Sinopharm’s vaccine is administered three weeks after the first shot whereas the second dose of AstraZeneca's vaccine is given three months later.
In a previous statement, Zayed said that up to 20,000 Egyptians register on the website, on a daily basis, expecting around 500,000 Egyptians to have registered for their vaccination by the end of March.
On Saturday morning, Egypt received its third batch of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, which was locally approved for emergency use in January, with 300,000 doses, raising its received tally of the Chinese vaccine to 650,000 shots.
In December, Egypt received 50,000 doses of the Chinese vaccine as a gift from the UAE before receiving the 300,000-dose second batch – also as a gift – directly from China in February.
In an attempt to diversify the source of vaccines, the country also received - in January - its first batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine, consisting of 50,000 doses, which is developed by India's R-pharma and Serum Institute, following their deal to transfer the vaccine manufacturing technology from the British company.
In late-January, the Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA) approved the emergency use of the British-Indian edition of the AstraZeneca vaccine a month before approving the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.
By the end of March, Zayed previously said, Egypt will receive 5.8 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the International Vaccine Alliance (GAVI) as a first batch of the quantity agreed upon, 40 million doses.