No EG.5

Reem Leila , Wednesday 16 Aug 2023

Egypt is free of the Covid-19 variant

No cases of EG.5 are reported in Egypt
No cases of EG.5 are reported in Egypt


The Ministry of Health and Population recently confirmed that there are no reports in Egypt of the Covid-19 variant EG.5 which first appeared worldwide in February, reports Reem Leila.

The EG.5 coronavirus, dubbed Eris, is considered an off-shoot of the Omicron variant of Covid-19. EG.5 is highly transmissible, however, it is not as severe as other Omicron variants.

According to Hossam Hosni, head of the Scientific Committee to Combat Coronavirus at the ministry, the most important characteristic of this mutant is the speed by which it spreads, but that there is no increase in the severity of symptoms compared to Omicron.

“Early diagnosis and a strong immunity system greatly protect the infected and makes it feel like any normal cold,” Hosni said. However, patients suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart problems must be cautious, Hosni said.

“Whoever has a cold that does not respond to traditional medical treatment within 48 hours must seek medical help to be properly diagnosed,” he added.

Hosni told Al-Ahram Weekly that the ministry has taken all preventive and precautionary measures against Covid-19 in general since it is considered an acute respiratory disease such as seasonal influenza. The ministry, according to Hosni, is following up the epidemiological situation of all respiratory viruses, including Covid-19 and its new variant EG.5, through a strong surveillance system. The system includes routine monitoring of acute respiratory diseases for patients attending outpatient clinics or those hospitalised through selected sites for monitoring acute respiratory and influenza-like diseases.

“The genetic sequence of the virus in laboratory-confirmed samples of Covid-19 is regularly examined in central public health laboratories so as to follow up on the emergence of new mutants in Egypt,” Hosni said.

The current variant which has spread to 51 countries is less severe and less dangerous than other mutants, said ministry spokesman Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar. “No evidence of an increase in the severity of the disease or risk has been shown,” Abdel-Ghaffar said.

According to Abdel-Ghaffar, the new variant is classified by the World Health Organisation as a low-risk virus despite its swift spread and rapid invasion of the human immunity system. At the same time, “WHO declared that Covid-19 is no longer a global health emergency as of early May. It has become similar to any other acute respiratory ailment prevalent all over the world.”

In an attempt to assure the public, Abdel-Ghaffar noted that the new EG.5 does not impose any health threat. People infected with the new EG.5 variant could suffer fever, sore throat, runny nose and coughing, body and muscle pain, fatigue, and diarrhea.

According to Abdel-Ghaffar, WHO is currently monitoring several variants of the COVID-19 virus, of which three are classified as interesting (XBB.1.16, XBB.1.5, EG.5), while six other variants are classified as under surveillance. “Globally, XBB.1.16 is the most prevalent variant, as it has been reported in 101 countries since its appearance, and its prevalence represents 25.2 per cent. The XBB.1.5 variant was reported in 121 countries worldwide, with a prevalence of 12.7 per cent,” added Abdel-Ghaffar.

WHO said there are 7,534 people infected with the new EG.5 variant, 30.6 per cent being in China while the remaining numbers are in Canada, the UK, the US, Japan, France, Australia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, and Portugal.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 17 August, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

Short link: