Egyptian Minister of Health Hala Zayed said on Saturday that Egypt “is in a stable stage” regarding the availability of liquid medical oxygen, stressing that the state’s strategic stock stands at 1.16 million litres, a cabinet statement said.
Zayed’s remarks came during a meeting of the government's higher committee tasked with managing the coronavirus crisis.
The health ministry is coordinating with the Unified Procurement Authority (UPA) on the procurement of medical oxygen and maintenance of cylinder networks nationwide, she said.
The UPA will provide 1,700 new flow metres - which are devices for measuring the rate of gas or liquid and also control their flow – to the ministry in order to replace old ones and reduce the loss of oxygen, the minister added.
She also clarified that the ministry is cooperating with the trade and industry ministry to procure required quantities of medical oxygen.
The health ministry aims to raise local production and strategic stocks of medical oxygen, in addition to importing any needed quantities.
The cylinder challenge has unpacked itself worldwide since medical oxygen was first prescribed as a life-line for coronavirus virus patients who experience drop in their levels of oxygen.
The cylinder challenges have also surfaced domestically since six patients reportedly died early-January in two public hospitals in the Sharqiya and Gharbiya governorates reportedly due to the lack of medical oxygen.
At the time, the health ministry denied in an official statement the cause of death was shortage in cylinders, affirming the availability of oxygen in sufficient quantities at all hospitals treating coronavirus patients.
The Public Prosecutor, however, is still investigating the matter.
Zayed also discussed in the meeting developments in the ongoing vaccination campaign for Egypt’s medical staff.
She announced that starting Saturday, 20 February, the vaccinating of medical staff would start at all hospitals that are not designated for coronavirus treatment.
The expansion in the vaccination campaign, Zayed says, comes after the ministry provided the vaccine to medical staff in 363 coronavirus-designated hospitals.
Egypt started the vaccination process mid-January with the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, which is administered in two doses 21 days apart, beginning with medical teams.
Frontline healthcare workers's vaccination will be followed by inocculating kidney failure and cancer patients and then the elderly.
Egypt received the first batch of the Chinese vaccine - 50,000 doses - in December from the UAE.
The ministry approved the vaccine in early January and is expecting a second batch soon.
On 31 January, Egypt received the first batch of the British AstraZeneca COVID-19, which consists of 50,000 doses, as part of an agreement reached between the UPA and the producer, India's R-pharma and Serum Institute.
The agreement comprises the procurement of a total of 20 million doses and the transfer of vaccine manufacturing technology to Egypt.
The ministry had announced that at a later stage in the vaccination campaign anyone can apply to take the vaccine by using the health ministry's ministry of official website.
Egypt has so far reported 172,602 coronavirus cases since the outbreakof the pandemic in February 2020, including 9,935 deaths and 134,215 recoveries.