MPs express concerns regarding latest coronavirus developments

Gamal Essam El-Din , Sunday 19 Dec 2021

With Egypt announcing this week its first cases of the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus, MPs voiced their concern regarding the government’s efforts to counter this dangerous development in a session on Sunday.

Egypt s House of Representatives. File photo
Egypt s House of Representatives. File photo

In a question directed to Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, independent MP Mohamed Abdallah Zein El-Din said that the detection of the Omicron variant should have pushed Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar, the minister of higher education and acting minister of health, to hold a press conference to announce the complete details of the new Omicron cases and what measures the government intends to take to contain the highly transmissible and contagious virus.

Zein El-Din also asked if the government has the financial resources to combat the Omicron variant and if the treatment protocols used by the Ministry of Health-affiliated hospitals are effective enough to stem the spread of this new dangerous variant of the coronavirus

Furthermore, he proposed that representatives from the ministries of health, local development, finance, health, and higher education hold an urgent meeting to answer the media’s questions on the new variant and explain how the government is preparing to deal with it.

Meanwhile, MP Akram El-Biyaddi, a member of the opposition Egyptian Social Democratic Party, asked about the whereabouts of the actual Minister of Health, Hala Zayed.

On 28 October, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly issued a decree appointing Minister Abdel-Ghaffar as the acting minister of health.

“Prime Minister Madbouly said that Minister Abdel-Ghaffar would undertake the duties of Health Minister Zayed until she recovers from her health problems,” said El-Biyaddi.

He added that even though PM Madbouly’s decree is now more than a month old, with some media reports revealing that Zayed made a recovery and was discharged from the hospital, and that the prosecution-general announced that some officials at Zayed’s office were arrested on corruption charges, no new decrees were issued on whether Zayed would be dismissed or if she had decided to resign or if she still intends to reassume her position as the minister of health.

El-Biayddi also said that while it is a constitutional fact that it is up to the president of the republic and the prime minister to dismiss cabinet ministers or delegate the duties of some of them to others, and while the minister of higher education is doing a good job as an acting minister of health, the current state affairs may need a minister that is not juggling two ministries at the same time.

On 29 October, then health ministry spokesperson Khaled Megahed revealed that Zayed had suffered from a heart attack on 26 October and that she was transferred to the hospital to receive treatment.

While some Egyptian media reports claimed that Zayed left the hospital and returned to her home, others say she was taken abroad to receive treatment.

Two days prior, Egypt’s prosecutor-general Hamada El-Sawy said that a number of officials inside the Ministry of Health are being investigated for corruption. The prosecutor’s office said it would announce all the details about the case when it is appropriate to do so and in a way that preserves the integrity of the investigation.

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